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The Fall: Before and After

"The fig leaf is one of the great moments that breaks the realism of this sculpture."—Peter Bell, curator

Tullio Lombardo (Italian, ca. 1455–1532). Adam, ca. 1490–95. Marble. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1936 (36.163). Learn more about this object.

How does the sculpted body communicate? Hear from Met experts, leading authorities, and rising stars, each with a unique viewpoint on the language of gesture, facial expression, and pose.

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Peter Bell: He seems to be lost in thought. His eyes look out above—not even at the apple, not at the viewer. It's sort of a pensive look. He's considering the apple, so the moment is frozen. His hand is suspended in the air in front of him.

Narrator: Adam's body language captures a moment of all-too-human indecision—but there's something more.

Peter Bell: The fig leaf is one of the great moments that breaks the realism of this sculpture. It's not attached by a vine or by any other means to his waist.

Luke Syson: By making this leaf float free of the branch to which it might otherwise be attached, he's drawing attention to it. So, oddly, you're looking carefully at the cover of somebody's shame. It's a very brilliant conceit, and it reminds you that the whole story, in a way, is contained within this figure—that it's both before and after the fall of man.