Susanna and the Elders by Sebastiano Ricci

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Susanna and the Elders by Sebastiano Ricci

Painting NameSusanna and the Elders
Painter NameSebastiano Ricci
Completion Date1713
Size102.2 x 83.2 cm (3' 4.24" x 32.76")
Current LocationPublic collection

The current depiction Susanna and the Elders is very much celebrated subject in artistic circles painted by many painters including Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt and Pablo Picasso. The attracting aspects of the story of Susanna and the Elders are the maliciousness of a human mind, the weakness of innocence and the triumph of virtue at the very end.

The besiegement of the chaste and virtuous Hebrew wife Susanna by two elders is the opening scene of the story. According to the myth, when Susanna was taking bath in a garden the two elders were peeping over her. On her way back they asked for sex or threatened to tell everybody that she was meeting another man in the garden. When she refused, the elders disgraced her in front of other people. She was about to get a death sentence, when a wise man called Daniel came and after separating them from each other cross-interrogated the two elderly about under which tree Susanna met the stranger? When both the elders gave different answers and their lie was revealed, Susanna was declared as virtuous as she was before.

This mythical event captured many artists’ eyes as it had the simple and catching story for general story as well as there was a space to depict nude woman on the canvas. Some artists even discarded the two elders from the scene representing Susanna as the center figure.

By watching the depicted scene, one can say, that the two elders’ gestures are clearly threatening while Susanna’s feared expressions are pitiable. She is in a shock and awe about the unexpected happening. Italian artist Sebastiano Ricci has captured the moment precisely to display the weak state of a woman in such condition and the overbearing actions of the lustful elders.

The oil on canvas painting with size of around 3.4×2.8 feet is being showcased in a public gallery.


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