Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Following his dismissal from his teaching position in Frankfurt by the National Socialists in 1933, Beckmann relocated to Berlin, where he hoped to continue his work in the anonymity of the capital. The following year, at the age of fifty, the renowned painter began to sculpt in clay and plaster — an extension of his interest in representing space and volume on a canvas’s two-dimensional surface. In a subtle reference to his own artistic process, Beckmann here combines the biblical creation story (Adam, himself formed from a lump of clay by his maker, clutches an embryonic Eve to his chest) with that of the fall of man, evoked by the snake that entwines the figure.

The last sculpture Beckmann made in Berlin before he immigrated to Amsterdam, and one of only eight in his oeuvre, Adam and Eve was never actually cast by the artist. Instead, it was posthumously produced in bronze in an edition of five by his estate. Its kneaded, uneven surface suggests that the formation of the human figure from clay is the ultimate creative act.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Max Beckmann, German (Leipzig, Germany 1884 - 1950 New York, N.Y., USA)
Adam and Eve
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Adam und Eva
Work Type
1936 (cast c. 1959)
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
83.3 x 35 x 36 cm (32 13/16 x 13 3/4 x 14 3/16 in.)
Beckmann estate; [Alpha Gallery, Boston], sold; to Mr. and Mrs. Irving Rabb (1969-1976), gift; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1976.

Date of sale per phone conversation with Alpha Gallery August 2010.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Irving Rabb
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 69, repr. pp. 68-69

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 358, p. 302, repr.

Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 73, ill.

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 80

Exhibition History

Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980

Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983

Making Myth Modern: Primordial Themes in German 20th-Century Sculpture, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 07/14/2007 - 12/30/2007

32Q: 1510 German Expressionist Sculpture, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 07/31/2018; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 06/06/2022

Private Practice, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/27/2015 - 01/12/2016

Adam and Eve, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/01/2018 - 01/06/2019

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at