Susanna and the Elders (Lotto)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Susanna and the Elders is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto, dating from 1517. It is housed in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence. The work has the signature LOTUS PICTOR 1517.


The work's date places it during Lotto's sojourn in Bergamo, executed perhaps for a private commissioner. It is likely that it formed a cover for a portrait.

The painting is known in catalogues only from the 20th century, when it was part of the Benson collection in London, and was acquired in 1975 by Alessandro Contini Bonacossi for 750 million liras. It was later transferred from his collection to the Uffizi, which now exhibits the painting in the Lombard painters room.


The painting depicts the story of Susanna from the Old Testament. She was the wife of one Joachim, and received the advances of his husband's friends while taking a bath. After her refusal, the "Elders" accused her of adultery, but the accusation was later proved to be false thanks to the intervention of Daniel.

Lotto portrayed her after getting naked for the bath (the clothes scattered around her), while the Elders burst into from the door of the bath's enclosure, followed by two serf called to support their accuse of adultery. The cartouches, showing the characters' dialogue, are an archaic element, perhaps required by the commissioner himself as a complement of the moral message.

The upper part of the picture is occupied by a view of the garden and a castle within an idyllic landscape. A preliminary scene of the episode is shown there, with the woman entering the garden while her two maidens return back.

See also

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