Susan and the Elders - Passionate Paintings
12-03-2019    87 times
Susan Elders

While Susanna, the fair Hebrew wife of Joakim, was taking a bath in her garden, two lustful elders secretly observed the young beauty and were overwhelmed with passion for her. When she was on her way back, the lecherous voyeurs stopped her, demanded sex and threatened that, if she does not agree to their proposal, they would testify against her for having illegal sex with a young man in the garden. Susanna refused to be blackmailed and as a result, she was arrested and was about to be put to death for promiscuity. Finding no way out, helpless young Susanna started to pray for divine help.

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At that stage, a young man named Daniel interrupted the proceedings, and demanded that the elders should be questioned before taking any final decision about the fate of the accused. Accordingly, the two elders were separated for cross-examination. While describing the scene, one of the elders said that they were under Mastic, while the second said they were under an evergreen Oak tree. The inconsistency in the narration proved that the accusation was false, hence the false accusers were put to death, and virtue triumphed.

Guido Reni - Italy [1575-1642]
Guido Reni - Italy [1575-1642]
Artemisia Gentileschi - Italy [1593-1853]
Artemisia Gentileschi - Italy [1593-1853]
Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari - Italy [1654-1727]
Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari - Italy [1654-1727]

The story of Susanna or Shoshana and the elders is included as one of the supplementary parts of the Book of Daniel. The brief, self-contained story appears in Greek but not in Hebrew manuscripts of the Book of Daniel. Most modern editions of the Bible include it among the unauthentic additions as Daniel 13.

Luca Giordano - Italy [1634-1705]
Luca Giordano - Italy [1634-1705]
Peter Paul Rubens - Flemish [1577-1640]
Peter Paul Rubens - Flemish [1577-1640]
Palma Giovane - Italy [1544-1628]
Palma Giovane - Italy [1544-1628]
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The Bible was the eternal source of inspiration for the old masters and the episode of Susanna and the Elders is not an exception to it. The story of Susanna was frequently painted from about 1470.

It was the subject of painting of many reputed artists, which included, among others, Tintoretto (Italy),Guido Reni (Italy), Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish), Artemisia Gentileschi (Italy), Rembrandt (Holland), Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari (Italy) and Sebastiano Ricci (Italy). Some of them emphasized the drama in the story, while others concentrated on the nudity.

Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri - Italy (1589-1655)
Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri - Italy (1589-1655)

Unlike the statue-like images of classical art, American artist Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) painted a modern edition of Susanna in 1938, in which he consciously included pubic hair.

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
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    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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