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Susanna and the Elders

Accession Number
1959/1.125

Title
Susanna and the Elders

Artist(s)
Annibale Carracci

Artist Nationality
Italian (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1590

Medium & Support
etching and engraving on paper

Dimensions
13 1/8 x 12 1/4 in. (33.3 x 31 cm);28 1/8 x 22 1/8 in. (71.28 x 56.04 cm);13 3/4 x 12 3/8 in. (34.8 x 31.3 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Jean Paul Slusser

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Annibale Carracci was a transformational figure in the history of Italian painting: his works influenced many artists, including his younger contemporary Guercino, and inspired important developments in seventeenth-century Italian art. Annibale’s output as a printmaker was limited, but his prints nevertheless reveal a mastery of the medium that derives from his virtuosity as a draftsman. The scintillating evocation of atmosphere and the sophisticated orchestration of light and shadow in this print, perhaps his most beautiful and ambitious, reveal how Annibale could translate the creativity and spontaneity of his drawing into another medium.
Annibale chose to depict for this print an Old Testament heroine confronted by male authority, much as Guercino would for his painting of Esther and Ahasuerus roughly fifty years later. Rather than Esther daring to approach the king, however, Annibale represents the virtuous Susanna bathing in her garden, where she is accosted by two lecherous elders. One of the men leans over a fence toward Susanna as he propositions her, while his companion points to the town visible in the background, threatening to publicly accuse her of adultery should she reject their advances. Yet, like the gate that remains shut against the men in the print, Susanna guarded her virtue. The elders subsequently tried her for adultery, but the prophet Daniel intervened and exposed the wickedness of the elders, who were condemned to death.
Gallery Rotation Fall 2010:
Annibale Carracci
Italy, 1560–1609
Susanna and the Elders
circa 1590
Etching and engraving on paper
Gift of Jean Paul Slusser, 1959/1.125
Annibale Carracci was a transformational figure in the history of art. His merging of a vibrant naturalism with classicism and his innovative subject matter influenced many artists, including the young Guercino, whose painting Esther and Ahasuerus provides a centerpiece for this gallery. Much as Guercino would later depict the bravery of an Old Testament heroine in that painting, Annibale here portrays the virtuous Jewess Susanna bathing in her garden, where she is accosted by two lecherous elders. One of the men leans over a fence and propositions her, while his companion points to a nearby town, threatening to publicly accuse her of adultery should she reject their advances. Yet, like the gate that remains shut against the men, Susanna guards her virtue. The elders subsequently try her for adultery, but the prophet Daniel intervenes and exposes the wickedness of the elders, who are condemned to death.

Subject matter
The virtuous Jewess Susanna bathes in her garden, where she is accosted by two lecherous elders. One of the men leans over a fence toward Susanna as he propositions her, while his companion points to the town visible in the background, threatening to publicly accuse her of adultery should she reject their advances.

Physical Description
A nude woman sits at the edge of a pool in a garden with a fountain visible in the foreground. Two bearded men lean on a gate next to her. The closer figure extends his left hand toward the woman, while the other points toward a town visible in the distance.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
black and white print

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
engravings (prints)
etchings (prints)
fountains
gardens (open spaces)
nudes (representations)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display