In Genesis 2, God places Adam in a deep sleep and creates Eve from his rib. Here, Blake imagines Adam’s wakening as tender sequel to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Rather than bestowing life at the touch of a finger, the Angel of Divine Presence joins his hand to Eve’s.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art explicates the painting’s elaborate symbolism: “the grape vines entwined around the tree symbolize marriage; the exotic red and blue plumed birds represent the newly created souls; and the giant oak leaf on which Adam reclines forecasts humankind’s suffering. A lion dozing near grazing lambs at lower right signals the peace of the pre-fallen world.”