Susanna and the Elders (Rembrandt)
|Dimensions||76.6 cm × 92.8 cm (30.2 in × 36.5 in)|
Susanna and the Elders is a 1647 painting by Rembrandt, now in the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin. It is an oil on panel painting by the Dutch painter Rembrandt and represents the story of Susanna from the Bible. The scene shows the moment when Susanna is surprised at the moment she enters her bath.
- "55. SUSANNA AT THE BATH. Sm. 41.; Bode 255 ; Dut. 36; Wb. 21 ; B.-HdG. 322. Susanna, turning to the left, is about to descend the stone steps from the right into the water. She is surprised by the two Elders. One of them tries with his left hand to tear away her bathing-towel, and makes a threatening gesture with his clenched right fist. The more aged of the two men, behind to the right, hobbles forward out of the shadow. Susanna, shivering, stands with one foot in the water ; with her right hand she presses the towel firmly against her body with a gesture of alarm, and holds her left arm before her bosom. She looks out of the picture with an expression of dread and entreaty. On the stone bench to the right lies her rich gown of brilliant red. To the left, beyond the basin, are the terraces, arcades, and towers of the royal palace of Babylon. On the bank is a peacock. A couple are walking amid the bushes. Small full-length figures.
- Signed on the right at foot on the edge of a step, " Rembrandt f. 1647 " ; oak panel, 30 inches by 36 inches.
- There are painted studies for the Susanna in the Louvre (58) and in the collection of Leon Bonnat, Paris (60) ; for the elder in front in the Bischoffsheim collection, Paris (59), and in the Von Nemes collection, Budapest (56).
- A finished drawing is in the Landesgalerie, Budapest, reproduced in Handzeichnungen der Albertlna, 286. A study in red chalk is in the Berlin Print-room, reproduced by Lippmann and Hofstede de Groot, 20. A chalk study for the Susanna is also in the Berlin Print-room, reproduced by Lippmann, 197. Several pen-and-ink studies for the elder in front were in the collection of J. P. Heseltine (HdG. 986 and 1021).
- Engraved in mezzotint by R. Earlom, 1769.
- Mentioned by Bode, pp. 485, 591 ; by Dutuit, p. 25 ; by Michel, pp. 323, 551 [247, 249-50, 436]. For the relation of this and other pictures of "Susanna" by Rembrandt to a picture by Lastman, see Valentiner in the Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, November 1907, and Kurt Freise, P. Lastman, pp. 249, etc.
- Exhibited at the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, London, 1883, No. 236.
- Possibly in the collection of Adriaen Banck, Amsterdam, who in 1647 bought a " Susanna " from Rembrandt for 500 florins and sold it to Adriaen Maen of Schiedam in 1660 for 560 florins. See Hofstede de Groot, Urkunden über Rembrandt, Nos. 207, 732.
- Sales. Baron Schonborn, Amsterdam, April 16, 1738 (Hoct, i. 511), No. 66 but No. 65 of the original catalogue (700 florins). J. A. J. Aved, Paris, November 24, 1766 (2760 francs).
- In the collection of Edmund Burke, London, 1769.
- Sale. Sir Joshua Reynolds, London, March 11, 1795 (£156, according to Sm.).
- In the collection of Sir E. Lechmere, Bart., The Rhydd, till 1883.
- In the possession of the Paris dealer C. Sedelmeyer, " Catalogue of 300 Paintings," No. 135 ; sold in 1883 to Berlin.
- In the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, 1911 catalogue, No. 828E.".
Other "Susanna" paintings by Rembrandt or his school are:
Modifications by Reynolds
The choice of the arrangement of the figures was based on an example by Rembrandt's teacher Pieter Lastman. The painting was completed in three stages and used for study in Rembrandt's workshop. Much later, when the painting was in the possession of the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, he altered it. Recent research and forensic study have revealed the extent of Rembrandt's alterations between 1635 and 1647, and that of Reynolds.
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