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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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On view in the Prado in Madrid, is the painting known as the Fall of Man. It is by the renowned 16th century Venetian artist Titian. This work has the alternative title of the story of Adam and Eve.

Titian's painting of the Fall of Man is a religious painting in the Late Renaissance style. It'’s thought that Titian painted it around the year 1550. The picture is an oil on canvas painting measuring 240 x 186cm. In the picture, we see Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve is tempting Adam with the forbidden fruit.

It was Gonzalo Pérez who commissioned the painting. He was the father of Antonio Pérez who was Philip II of Spain's secretary. Records confirm that at one point, Antonio Pérez owned the picture. In 1585 the painting was part of the Spanish royal collection. In 1827 the painting moved from the Royal Collection to the Prado Museum in Madrid where it now resides.

In interpreting the meaning behind the work known as the Fall of Man, what is clear is that the painting has a Christian influence. It provides a visual picture of Genesis 30, 9-19 in which Eve tempts Adam with the forbidden fruit. In the picture, Adam is looking up at the face of Eve while seated. In the tree at the centre of the picture, there is a cherub. The cherub appears to be encouraging Eve to take the forbidden fruit which she has her hand around. Also, it's possible to draw meaning from the colours in the painting. Some claim that life and innocence come from the rich colours on view. The darkness of the tree represents malice and evil.

There is a belief that Titian's inspiration for this work of art came from a fresco by the painter Raphael. Found in the Vatican's, Stanza della Signatura it shows, in the same way, a seated Adam and standing Eve. For smaller details, an earlier engraving of Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer was also an influence on Titian's work.

During his long career, Titian had times when his paintings had a religious theme. The first was between 1516 and 1538. One of his best-known works at this time was the masterpiece known as the Assumption. Following on from his visit to Rome in 1545–46 he resumed producing religious paintings. Titian's paintings now appear to show the influence of ancient art as well as the works of Michelangelo. It was at this stage of his career that he painted the Fall of Man. In his last years in Venice, Titian’s religious pictures were different. The difference is that there is an increased feeling of spirituality in his paintings as the people now appear in a shadowy light.