Susanna and the elders
The story of Susanna
Susanna’s story is told in one of the apocryphal writings of the Old Testament. She became victim to her own beauty when two old judges who coveted her began to plot against her. One day, whilst she was bathing in her garden as she was accustomed to doing, they came out of hiding, and, threatening to accuse her of fornication with a young man if she did not give herself to them, they conducted their business.
Despite the threat of a death penalty, Susanna evades them. In the eleventh hour she is saved from the humiliating indictment by the young Daniel, who by cross-examining the two judges is able to reveal their defamation.
This story made a major impression for painters of the Baroque era, as it presented them the welcome occasion to paint a motif that combined the beauty of a nude woman beheld by secret male onlookers. Jordaens updates the motif by presenting the story with the detachment of a caricature.
Written by Eva de la Fuente Pedersen.
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