The first funeral
This biblical group shows Adam and Eve carrying their son Abel, the victim of the jealousy of his brother Cain. The plaster won a Medal of Honour at the Salon of 1878, where it was considered as "the highest manifestation of the feeling that sculpture can express".
While the sculpture contains formal references to Michelangelo and Bernin, Barrias nonetheless sets the mourning scene in a fantastical Pre-history evoked by the use of carved flint. Adam has a fierce face with Gallic features, another allusion to the early days of humanity. In contrast, the bodies of Eve and Abel hark back to the antique models revisited by the Renaissance.
The three characters are united in a tiered pyramidal composition, which plays on the relationships between the bodies. With this imaginary recreation of the first irruption of death, Barrias brilliantly synthesizes the neo-classical, romantic and realist styles.