"Adam and Eve" Brass Alms Dish
This 18th-century alms dish is crafted from brass. An alms dish is a tray that is typically used to collect offerings from a congregation in church. After the collection is complete, the dish is presented at the altar. Alternatively, it is used to hold, display, or serve food or other articles. This particular object has an iron band along its bottom to give the dish support. Along the outside of the dish are circle, spiral, and diamond-shaped designs which have been etched into the brass with a hammer. A depiction of Adam and Eve is etched into the centre of the dish. Adam and Eve are shown picking the forbidden fruit from a tree. The serpent that entices the first man and woman into consuming the fruit wraps its body around the tree situated between the two figures. In the biblical story, forbidden fruit grows in the Garden of Eden, which God commands mankind not to eat. Overcome by temptation, Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they are exiled from Eden. The story of the fall of Adam and Eve is one of the most commonly depicted in the history of visual arts.
At this time in history in Germany the Holy Roman Empire was beginning to fall apart. Soon after, the separated states of the empire developed a classical culture that found its greatest expression in the Enlightenment period. A philosophic movement that spread rapidly in Europe that advocated the separation of church from state.