The figure in this painting is copied from one of the elders in the foreground of Guercino’s Susannah and the Elders (Museo del Prado, Madrid), which illustrates a story in the Old Testament Apocrypha. While she is bathing, Susannah is spied upon by two old men who threaten to accuse her of adultery if she resists their lustful advances.
Guercino’s original was made in 1617 for Cardinal Alessandro Ludovisi. The Ludovisi, one of Bologna’s most distinguished families, were early patrons of Guercino. The old man in the original work holds a staff and this has been replaced here with a lamp. This copy is thought to be by an Italian artist, suggesting that it was made before Guercino’s original was sent to Spain in 1664.
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