ANDREA DEL SARTO
(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1530, Firenze)
Oil on wood, 183 x 184 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
Andrea painted this work for the convent of San Gallo which was subsequently destroyed in the siege of Florence (1529). The panel was then transported by the Augustinian Brothers to their new seat, San Jacopo tra i Fossi, whence in 1626 it passed into the possession of the Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena who transferred it to the chapel then being built in Palazzo Pitti. It is an early work of Andrea done when Pontormo was in his workshop.
The atmosphere is charged with ancient references quoted blithely in the theatrical background which forms a setting for the almost unrecognizable biblical story. It is usually interpreted as Susanna and the Elders - a Susanna who resembles a male nude; the Elders, three of them, lightly touched in with a few brushstrokes, are pointing to her up in an airy loggia worthy of Pontormo or Rosso. The two figures of the Madonna and the Angel in the foreground, accompanied by two angels, full of gentle human beauty, are vibrant with poetic intensity.