Tullio Lombardo’s Adam is the only signed piece created to decorate the colossal tomb of Venice’s Doge Andrea Vendramin and one of the few Renaissance masterpieces outside of Italy. The late 15th century Venetian statue is carved from Carrara marble and displays a purification of form, with heavenly beauty and a dreamlike facial expression. When the viewer moves to the right, as Tullio’s angled inscription prompts, there is anxiety and uneasiness in the First Man’s stance and features originally unseen. This piece references the divine beautiful of Greek sculpture and thoughtfully adds lifelike Renaissance elements.
In the fall of 2002, the plywood pedestal buckled under the weight of Adam and left the statue in 28 major fragments and hundreds of smaller pieces on the gallery floor. Multidisciplinary research from 2003-2011 was conducted by conservators, art historians, engineers and 3D image specialists to perform the unprecedented reconstruction of Adam. Several methods were pioneered to meet the statue’s specific stress distribution challenges, including 3D laser scanning, a new form of reversible adhesive and fiberglass connections instead of the traditional metal pins.
This iconic Adam is now on exhibition in a new permanent gallery of Venetian and Northern Italian Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and can be viewed in the round with panels describing the research, conservation and reconstruction process.