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Francesco Hayez, Susanna at her Bath

Key facts
Full title Susanna at her Bath
Artist Francesco Hayez
Artist dates 1791 - 1881
Date made 1850
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 138 × 122 cm
Acquisition credit On loan from a private collection
Inventory number L1009
Location Room 45
Image copyright On loan from a private collection, © Private collection. Used by permission
Collection Main Collection
Susanna at her Bath
Francesco Hayez

Hayez was the leading artist of mid-19th-century Milan, renowned for his great historical paintings, political allegories and exceptionally fine portraits. This painting of 'Susannah at her Bath' combines two of his favourite subject matters: an Old Testament story and a voluptuous female nude.

The story comes from the Apocryphal Book of Daniel (Chapter 13). As the virtuous Susannah bathes in her garden, she is approached by two corrupt elders who, lusting after her, threaten to accuse her of adultery if she does not give into them. She refuses and is falsely accused by them, but her innocence is proved, preventing her from being stoned.

Unlike Ludovico Carracci's representation of the story in 'Susannah and the Elders' Hayez does not include the figures of the old men watching Susannah. Their presence is nonetheless palpable: startled by prying eyes, Susannah looks back, as if confronting the voyeuristic viewer with an accusing glance.

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