In Jonathan Alexander’s article “Labeur and Paresse,” the author examines nudity in folio 25v. The triptych depicts Adam and Eve’s story. On the left Eve is picking the forbidden fruit, hands the fruit to Adam, God tells the couple their punishment, and an angel kicks them out of the Garden of Eden. Alexander states that, “The erotic emphasis on Eve’s nudity” is not a result of the “voyeuristic gaze of the Duke [de Berry]” (447) but of the power exercised through class. I disagree.
First, Alexander gives no reason that the image of Eve should not be perceived as eroticized. He says that because male and female images are presented, it cannot be about sex. As Professor Serrano said in class there’s often, “Something for everyone.” in pictures such as these. Why would including the nude Adam make Eve suddenly an unisexual being? In fact, displaying both of them emphasizes their sexuality. The story shown in the image represent the consequences of giving into temptation. Perhaps this was in some way poking fun at the fact that one looks at Eve and sees a form of erotica, when one is not supposed to. Although many of the other images are about class power, there is no sense of this struggle in folio 25v. Why should the other images completely alter the meaning of this one?
Second, if we observe the picture itself, Eve is supposed to represent the ideal female body type for the time. Her distended belly, the whiteness of her skin, long golden hair, pert breasts, and thin waist express fertility, youth, and femininity. I’m curious what my classmates thought of Alexander’s opinion about this folio. Do you think the image is sexual or erotic?