Susannah and the Elders

This episode is taken from the Old Testament Apocrypha (Susannah 15-24). As the virtuous and beautiful Susannah bathes in her garden, she is approached by two elders who, lusting after her, threaten to accuse her of adultery if she does not sleep with them. She refuses and is falsely accused by them, but her innocence is proved and prevents her from being stoned. Ludovico Carracci also painted a version of Susannah and the Elders.

This painting hung in the Palazzo Lancellotti, Rome, in 1640, alongside Lot and his Daughters leaving Sodom. Given that the paintings are of a similar size, it was believed for some time that they were created as companion pieces. However, cleaning in 1984 revealed brushwork that suggests different dates for the works – 'Susannah and the Elders' was painted later than 'Lot and his Daughters' and the two were likely not originally intended as a pair.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1575 - 1642
Full title
Susannah and the Elders
Group
Date made
1620-5
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
116.6 x 150.5 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1844
Inventory number
NG196
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: Two Biblical Scenes from Palazzo Lancellotti