The Creation and Book of Genesis Reliefs at Orvieto Cathedral

First half of the 14th century
Marble relief
Detail from the far left pillar, façade of Orvieto Cathedral

In the first (lowest) register, the artist telegraphs the first five days of Creation into a single panel in the lower left. It covers the "spirit of God" (the dove) that "moved over the waters"; the gathered waters and dry land; the fish, fowl, and plants; and the heavenly bodies. To the right of that panel we see the beginning of the fifth day: the beasts of the earth. The female figure in standing on the left in that panel may be the "Maria Ecclesia" that we see in Michelangelo's Creation fresco and elsewhere. Then in the lower right corner God creates Adam.

The scenes shown above are in the first and second registers in the relief.

After this hasty run-through, the artist then devotes the entire second register to the creation of Eve: first God puts Adam to sleep; then he takes out his rib, and finally he makes the rib into the woman.

God's creation of all the earth's good things contrasts sharply with the scenes at the top panel in the reliefs, where Tubalcain invents metallurgy, the basis of warfare, and Jubal invents music that "tempts the ears with melodious music that gives pleasure." (See the page describing the top panel.)

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Read more about images of the Creation and other events in the Book of Genesis.

Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.