Eve hides her head shamefully in her arms. She and a figure of Adam were to flank the ‘Gates of Hell’, a project inspired by Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ but never carried to completion by Rodin. Even Eve herself remained unfinished. The fact that Rodin’s model was pregnant is reflected in his psychological intensity of the figure. Here, she is neither a seductress nor innocence personified, but the ‘primordial mother’ bringing original sin into the world. In 1899 she was accordingly the first modern sculpture to be exhibited without a base – putting her at eye level with the public.
Georg Hartmann (1870–1954) came from an old Frankfurt family. It was under his direction that, beginning in 1898, the Bauersche Type Foundry expanded to become a major corporation. An art collector and member of the Städelscher Museums-Verein from 1920 onwards, in 1935 Hartmann also came to serve as administrator of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut. His collecting interests were directed primarily towards medieval sculpture, but he was also open to modern art. He initially acquired the ‘Eve’ in Paris for himself; in 1953 he bequeathed it to the Städel.