Temptation in Eden: Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve, 1526, detail


From 21 June – 23 September the Courtauld will hold the first exhibition in Britain devoted to the German Renaissance painter, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1555). The exhibition focuses on the Courtauld’s great Adam and Eve, painted in 1526. This subject was ideally suited to Cranach’s gifts as a portrayer of landscape, animals and the female nude. Nor was it one to which either Protestant or Catholic theologians could object.

Cranach and his workshop made over fifty depictions of Eve’s temptation of Adam in Paradise with the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The Courtauld Adam and Eve is the only one of his paintings not to follow one of the two basic iconographic interpretations which Cranach developed for this story. Using the evidence provided by technical investigation and drawings, the exhibition will track the process of its making. The painting’s possible meanings for sixteenth-century viewers will also be investigated. Adam and Eve offers particularly close comparisons with a group of secular depictions of temptation and beauty, including the National Gallery’s Venus and Cupid and the Getty’s A Faun and His Family. The exhibition will reunite these paintings for the first time in several hundred years.

Dr. Caroline Campbell – The Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings

This exhibition has been generously supported by His Excellency Mr Wolfgang Ischinger The German Ambassador (Patron), Apax Partners, Columbia Foundation, The Doris Pacey Charitable Foundation, The German Embassy, London, The Kilfinan Trust, Mr & Mrs Hughes Lepic and The Mallinckrodt Foundation.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue, written by Susan Foister, Gunnar Heydenreich, Stephanie Buck and Caroline Campbell.

Further information



From 25 October 2007 – 20 January 2008, this will be the first exhibition devoted to the remarkable group of paintings of female nudes produced by Walter Sickert in and around Camden Town between 1905-1912. The uncompromising realism of Sickert’s nudes, set in the murky interiors of cheap lodging houses, broke artistic conventions and shocked contemporary critics. The exhibition will trace Sickert’s reinvention of the nude, exploring the ways in which the paintings engaged with pressing artistic and social concerns of the period.

Dr. Barnaby Wright – Curator, Hermitage Rooms

This exhibition has been generously supported by the Estate of Lillian Browse, the Friends of the Courtauld Institute of Art and Nicholas and Judith Goodison.

Further information

Walter Sickert, Reclining Nude
Walter Sickert, Reclining Nude – Mornington Crescent, 1905, oil on canvas, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, Lillian Browse Bequest

France in Russia: Empress Josephine’s Malmaison Collection examines the art collection and patronage of one of France’s greatest heroines, Napoleon’s consort Josephine (1763-1814). The exhibition will focus on the paintings, sculpture and decorative arts, which Josephine acquired for Malmaison, the château situated on the outskirts of Paris, bought by Napoleon for her when he was First Consul. Massively renovated in the neo-antique style by the Empire’s leading architectural partnership Percier and Fontaine, the château quickly became the imperial couple’s favourite unofficial residence. After their divorce in 1809, it was at Malmaison that Josephine, who was granted permission to retain her title of Empress, held court. There, she was surrounded by the beautiful and sumptuous luxury objects she commissioned, such as her exquisite porcelain dessert service painted after pictures in her collection, important old master paintings and a renowned collection of contemporary neoclassical sculpture, exemplified by the four Canova marbles she acquired from the sculptor himself. The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg owns one of the most significant collections of works art from Malmaison, and the exhibition also tells the epic story of how so many masterpieces found their way to Russia in the days, months and years following the Allied victory over Napoleon in August 1815.

Dr Alexandra Gerstein

François Gérard, Portrait of Josephine, oil on canvas, 1801, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, detail

François Gérard, Portrait of Josephine, oil on canvas, 1801, State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, detail