Scala/Art Resource, NY

Not exactly a garden of delights. Adam dourly assigns names to all kinds of fantastic creatures, not one of which looks like him. In this 12th-century fresco in the San Pietro Abbey near Ferentillo, Italy, the man’s skeptical gaze seems to convey his unspoken wish for a suitable counterpart, which he doesn’t get until he parts with a rib. Adam accepts God’s gift of woman—but grudgingly, for the man’s self-importance renders him incapable of real gratitude. His limited and pessimistic perspective also imbues the rest of the second Creation narrative (Genesis 2:4b–24), which focuses not at all on the glories of God’s Creation but instead on the deficiencies of the Garden of Eden. And God himself is not cast as a benevolent ruler of blessing but as a punishing dictator.