(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

Susanna and the Elders (detail)

c. 1555
Oil on canvas, 147 x 194 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

In this picture the Old Testament story of the slander of Susanna, wife of the rich Joachim, by two lecherous old men whose plot is uncovered by the young Daniel, becomes a kind of atmospheric satyr play. Evening light flatters the body of the young woman, who looks more like a pagan nymph or goddess of love than a biblical heroine. Absorbed in the contemplation of her own beauty, Susanna has not yet noticed the two old voyeurs who are about to approach her. Italian Renaissance comedy, following the example of classical antiquity, made the amorous old man a stock character.