WebMuseum

Altdorfer, Albrecht

Image The Fall of Man


c.1535; Oil on hardboard transferred from panel;
left panel: The Rule of Bacchus, 39 x 15.9 cm
middle panel: The Fall of Man, 39 x 31.5 cm
right panel: The Rule of Mars, 39 x 15.7 cm
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

Left panel: the x-radiograph indicates a long check near the top of the left-hand corner. A small length of barbe is visible at the right edge; this is the only edge that is clearly original, but there are no strong compositional indications that the panels have been significantly altered. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals underdrawing in what appears to be a liquid medium. There are numerous small losses throughout, most apparent in the area of the inscription, and also an extensive raised crackle.

Middle panel: Examination with infrared reflectography revealed only occasional underdrawn strokes, but the x-radiograph indicated pentimenti around Adam's shoulders, arms, hands, and feet, and Eve's left arm, leg, and foot. The background paint overlaps the figures in what was probably a deliberate attempt to reduce their contours. There are several large losses throughout; these seem to have been the result of blistering and may have been the occasion for the marouflage to hardboard. Specifically, there are losses to the left of and above Adam's head, through his chest, and around the lower part of his left leg. At the right of Eve's head is a series of losses that continue down her arm and a circular loss in her left calf. The surface is secure but afflicted with vertical blistering and raised crackle. The vertical join line along the center is inpainted.

Right panel: Examination with infrared reflectography reveals underdrawing in the figure of Mars in what appears to be a liquid medium. There are numerous small losses throughout, and these are particularly evident in the area of the inscription. There are losses above and to the left of Mars' head and in his left arm. The surface is secure but exhibits a vertical, raised crackle pattern.

The present arrangement of these panels is not the original one. Although they were probably a triptych, the original center panel is no longer extant, and the present center panel once existed as two separate images on the reverse of the wings. Adam was on the reverse of The Rule of Bacchus and Eve was on the reverse of The Rule of Mars. The work existed as a diptych from 1891 on, and photographs from the 1930s and 1940s indicate that the two panels were joined so that while the Adam and Eve panels faced each other correctly, the Bacchus and Mars panels were consequently incorrectly oriented. Around 1950 the panels were thinned to a veneer and marouflaged to hardboard that was subsequently veneered; it is assumed that at this time the fronts and backs were separated and the backs joined together to form a single image of The Fall of Man.


14 Oct 2002, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
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