Susanna and the Elders, study on Rubens.


52 x 62 cm. Oil on board.

Study on Reubens’ “Susanna and the Elders” (c1606). Llewena Carrero


This is the first and only oil painting my wife Llewena did. I helped mixing colors and showed how to apply layers. Amazingly talented individual whose capacity to analyse detail defies artistic experience, and yet produces results like this.

Book of the Apocrypha. The story is set in Babylon and concerns two Jewish elders appointed as judges who become enamored of the beautiful and pious Susanna, wife of the wealthy Joakim. After watching her bathe in the privacy of her garden they accost her, but she rejects their advances. To get back at her they accuse her of adultery with a young man in her garden, and on the basis of their false testimony she is condemned to death. At this point the young Daniel intervenes, claiming that the two accusers have not been cross-examined properly. Under his examination, they become confused, one stating that the alleged transgression occurred beneath a mastic tree, the other under an oak, and Susanna is thus exonerated and the two elders are put to death.

The brief Book of Susanna and the Elders has been preserved in two Greek versions, in the Septuagint (48 verses) and in Theodotion (64 verses), the latter giving a more graphic account of the garden scene. The book is part of the uncanonized Additions to the Book of Daniel. Its principal purpose seems to have been to exalt the wisdom of the young Daniel in the face of a misjustice wrought by the community. It is not certain whether the original language of the book was Hebrew or Greek. The story with its erotic element has been a favorite of painters (Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt) and a host of writers and composers.

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Rubens made the work in his Italian period.