(See front cover)

The story of Eve and Adam, unfolds in a French Book of Hours called the Très Riches Heures.

Illustrated primarily by the three Limbourg brothers—Paul, Herman and Jean—between 1413 and 1416, the Très Riches Heures is often referred to as the “king of illuminated manuscripts.” The Duke of Berry, who commissioned the prayer book, spared no expense in its creation. The microscopic work of the three young artists required extremely fine brushes and, probably, lenses. The deep luminous blue of the heavenly firmament in the miniatures was prepared from ground-up lapis lazuli.

Four scenes from Genesis 3 appear in “The Garden of Eden.” On the left, Eve takes an apple from the hand of the serpent (who has assumed the upper part of a female body), then brings the fruit to Adam. After eating the fruit, the pair are told by God of their punishment. Ending the sequence, a flaming angel drives them from the Garden of Eden. The delicate fountain in the center separates the scenes of innocence on the left from those of punishment on the right. Painted according to the type of female figure fashionable at the time, Eve has a high bosom, thin waist and protruding stomach.

The story of Adam and Eve did not usually figure in a Book of Hours. Its appearance here and its position—just before the Annunciation—was probably determined by the medieval belief that the “fall” of Adam had brought about the coming of Jesus, the Christian messiah.