Eve, in “Eve, the Serpent and Death,” is not wearing a fig leaf. Which is why we asked the designer to crop the painting, right at Eve’s relatively chaste waist. The full painting, by the German artist Hans Baldung Grien, shows Eve from head to toe, and in great detail. So our question to you is, Should we have printed the whole thing?
When we met to select photos to accompany the article, we all agreed that this painting of “Eve, the Serpent and Death” (c. 1510–1512) beautifully illustrated the article: Everything about it reminds us of the portrait of Eve found in the pseudepigrapha: Her sidelong glance, her suggestive smile, her openly sexual pose, her apparent complicity with Death and the serpent: Caught in a danse macabre, Eve grasps the serpent’s tail while Death holds her arm. Clearly this is the sexual temptress who, according to the pseudepigrapha, introduced sin and death to the world.
Indeed, in some ways the painting is an even more accurate illustration of the pseudepigrapha than the artist might have realized: The pseudepigraphical Apocalypse of Moses describes Eve, the serpent and the devil—three figures—together in the Garden. Hans Baldung Grien paints Eve, the serpent and a rather devilish Death.