Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 5165
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Clifton , James,
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Gender and Shame in Masaccio's "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" ["Here both gestures - Eve in covering her erogenous zones, Adam in leaving his exposed and in covering only his face - suggest that, in conformity with Italian mores, it is only the woman's sexuality that is at issue and that the sin associated with her sexuality dishonours the man. Adam's exposure does not dishonour him; rather it serves to draw the insistent distinction between men and women, fundamental to the honour-shame paradigm, which is manifested most recognizably in anatomy." (Page 650)].
  • Source: Art History 22, 5 (December 1999): Pages 637 - 655.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Adam (Biblical Figure) in Art Art History- Painting Eve (Biblical Figure) in Art Gender in Art Gesture in Art Honor Iconography Masaccio, Painter- Expulsion from the Garden of Eden Nude in Art Sexuality Shame in Art Women in Art
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Painting; Florence, Church of the Carmine, Brancacci Chapel, fresco of the "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden."
  • Illustrations: Four Figures. Figure One Masaccio, "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," Fresco (Florence, Church of the Carmine, Brancacci Chapel). Figure Two Jacopo della Quercia, "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," Marble relief (Siena, Palazzo Pubblico, Fonte Gaia).~~Figure Three Jacopo della Quercia, "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden," Stone relief (Bologna, San Petronio, main portal).~~Figure Four Masolino, "Temptation," Fresco (Florence, Church of the Carmine, Brancacci Chapel).
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  • Abstract: An analysis of the gestures of Adam and Eve in Masaccio's "Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" and their contrapuntal relationship to each other indicates that they depict the primeval couple's shame according to traditional gender stereotypes. According to these stereotypes, the man, as a primarily rational being, experiences intellectual (or spiritual) shame and thus covers his face (or head) as the seat of reason, whereas the woman, as a primarily carnal being, experiences sexual shame and thus covers her erogenous zones. Overlapping and reinforcing this interpretation is another, grounded in anthropology, which argues that the representations of Adam and Eve are informed by Mediterranean concepts of honour and shame. [Reproduced by permission of Blackwell Publishers, publishers of "Art History" at http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/asp/journal.asp?ref=0141-6790].
  • Author's Affiliation:
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1999.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 01416790
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