Adam, Eve and Navels

Eleven years ago this month, I published a post on this blog, titled “What is real or nor real in Art?”, where I wrote about my questioning, over many decades, the Old Masters' paintings that render and Adam and Eve with navels.  At the end of this post are several photos of such (otherwise) masterworks.

Recently Natasha listened to a podcast on BBC Radio about Sir Thomas Browne, the 17th Century physician, philosopher and polymath, in which a brief mention was made about Browne's commentary about Adam, Eve and navels.  

She did some research and it turns out, Sir Thomas said the same thing I’ve been saying for over sixty years, but three hundred years earlier.  

Here is a link to his essay in Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Chapter 4‘On the picture of Adam and Eve with Navels’, in which writes at some length (the following paragraph is just the opening sentence): 

“. . . Another mistake there may be in the Picture of our first Parents, who after the manner of their posterity are both delineated with a Navel. And this is observable not only in ordinary and stained pieces, but in the Authentick draughts of Urbin, Angelo and others. Which notwithstanding cannot be allowed, except we impute that unto the first cause, which we impose not on the second; or what we deny unto nature, we impute unto Naturity it self. . . “ [Sir Thomas Browne, 1646]

By discovering this observation made by a 17th century writer and thinker, it supports my insight even more.  

What this means is throughout history, many popes, art patrons, critics, scholars, cardinals, priests, painters, queens, kings and most of us, have been ignorant and asleep in this matter.  

As a matter of fact, for those who follow the scriptures, it’s really a sort of "blasphemy" to think Adam and Eve had navels. 😊

Adam and Eve, Albrecht Durer, 1504

Adam and Eve, Raphael, Circa 1508-1511

Adam and Eve, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1638