Life after the Fall

After the Fall
Holbein Proofs, After the Fall
Speculum humanae salvationis, ca. 1450
Speculum humanae salvationis, ca. 1450

A dam earns his bread in the sweat of his face. Eve suckles Cain in the background while holding a distaff. This is an allusion to the famous saying, "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?"

Icones Historiarum Veteris Testamenti: Genesis chap. 3 & 5
Holbein, Old Testament

The picture of Adam delving and Eve spinning, had been used for centuries. The picture to the left is from ca. 1450, and you can see the same motif on frescoes in Danish churches like Ottestrup and Tågerup.

The phrase comes from a sermon by John Ball in 1381 in connection with a peasant rebellion in England. Thus, the motif is also an allusion to the recent German peasants' war 1524 - 1525.

On Holbein's picture, Death is actively helping Adam with the hard work. Maybe it's meant to signify that Death is now a constant follower of man — or maybe it's because Death is always to be found at the side of the poor and downtrodden. See also the duke, the count, the judge and the peasant.

Holbein also produced a series of illustrations for The Old Testament. under the name Historiarum veteris instrumenti Icones ad vivum expressae. The publishers included the first four pictures from the dance of death: Creation, Temptation and Fall, the Expulsion from Paradise and Life After the Fall. The picture to the right is from a 1547 edition; on the right part of the picture is Noah's Ark.

Variations: Aldegrever, as he is wont to, makes a free interpretation, and Eberhard Kieser copies Aldegrever.
Birckmann has added broken branches in the foreground and trees in the background. Hollar and Deuchar copy Birckmann.

Various Artists

Holbein Proofs (1526)
Holbein Proofs 1526: After the Fall
Holbein (1538)
Holbein 1538: After the Fall
Aldegrever (1541)
Aldegrever 1541: After the Fall
Vogtherr (1544)
Vogtherr 1544: After the Fall
 1552: After the Fall
 1552: After the Fall
Birckmann (1555)
Birckmann 1555: After the Fall
Wagner (1557)
Wagner 1557: After the Fall
Maundeville (1580)
Maundeville 1580: Maundeville
Straub (1581)
Straub 1581: After the Fall
Chytraeus (1590)
Chytraeus 1590: After the Fall
Glissenti (1596)
Glissenti 1596: After the Fall
Kieser (1617)
Kieser 1617: After the Fall
Meyer (1650)
Meyer 1650: After the Fall
Hollar (1651)
Hollar 1651: After the Fall
Thomas Neale (1657)
Thomas Neale 1657: After the Fall
Valvasor (1682)
Valvasor 1682: After the Fall
Erbaulicher Sterb-Spiegel (1704)
Erbaulicher Sterb-Spiegel 1704: After the Fall
Nieuhoff (1720)
Nieuhoff 1720: After the Fall
Mechel (1780)
Mechel 1780: After the Fall
Deuchar (1788)
Deuchar 1788: After the Fall
Bewick (1789)
Bewick 1789: After the Fall
Bechstein (1831)
Bechstein 1831: After the Fall
Schlotthauer (1832)
Schlotthauer 1832: After the Fall
Douce (1833)
Douce 1833: After the Fall
Curmer (1858)
Curmer 1858: After the Fall
Deuchar (1887)
Deuchar 1887: After the Fall
Thy Grief (2022)
Thy Grief 2022: After the Fall
Thy Grief (2022)
Thy Grief 2022: After the Fall