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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Folk Art: Folk Painting: Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve
Victor Joseph Gatto
oil on canvas
24 x 10 3/4 in. (61.0 x 27.3 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Victor Joseph Gatto was not particularly religious, but he painted several fantasy images based on characters from the Bible. He used tiny brushes to build up thick layers of color, giving his subjects a glowing, otherworldly quality. He painted Adam and Eve at the moment of temptation, when Eve hands the apple to Adam; the flat, empty landscape beyond suggests the figures are standing on the edge of Eden. In Suffering Christ, Gatto depicted Jesus just before the crucifixion. The figure’s vivid red hair and pale skin emphasize the blood flowing from his forehead and chest, while his calm expression disguises his pain.

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