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Suzanne Suzanne in history of art

As the story goes, a fair Hebrew wife named Susanna was falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lustful elders secretly observe the lovely Susanna. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, threatening to claim that she was meeting a young man in the garden unless she agrees to have sex with them.

She refuses to be blackmailed and is arrested and about to be put to death for promiscuity when a young man named Daniel interrupts the proceedings, shouting that the elders should be questioned to prevent the death of an innocent. After being separated, the two men are questioned about details (cross-examination) of what they saw but disagree about the tree under which Susanna supposedly met her lover. In the Greek text, the names of the trees cited by the elders form puns with the sentence given by Daniel. The first says they were under a mastic (ὑπο σχίνον, hupo schinon), and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to cut (σχίσει, schisei) him in two. The second says they were under an evergreen oak tree (ὑπο πρίνον, hupo prinon), and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to saw (πρίσαι, prisai) him in two. The great difference in size between a mastic and an oak makes the elders’ lie plain to all the observers. The false accusers are put to death, and virtue triumphs.

Suzanne et les vieillards (ou Suzanne et les deux vieillards ou encore Suzanne au bain) est un épisode apocryphe racontant qu’une jeune femme, Suzanne, surprise alors qu’elle prend son bain, refuse les propositions malhonnêtes de deux vieillards qui l’accusent alors d’adultère et la font condamner à mort. Mais le jeune prophète Daniel survient, prouve son innocence et fait condamner les vieillards.


Giuseppe Cesari - Suzanne et les vieillards (1590)


Artemisia Gentileschi - Suzanne et les vieillards (1610)


Le Tintoret - Suzanne au bain


Rembrandt - Suzanne au bain


Pierre Paul Rubens - Suzanne et les vieillards (1608)


Antoine van Dyck - Suzanne au bain


Paul Véronèse - Suzanne au bain


Eugène Delacroix - Suzanne

JPG - 82.5 ko