Sir Peter LelySusanna and the Elders c.1650-5

Share this artwork

Artwork details

Sir Peter Lely (1618‑1680)
Susanna and the Elders
Date c.1650-5
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1270 x 1492 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1961
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1650


The subject comes from the biblical Apocrypha. Susanna, a young Jewish wife, was secretly desired by two elders of the community, who plotted together to seduce her. They hid in her garden and when she came out to bathe they emerged and threatened that, unless she gave in to their desires, they would publicly accuse her of adultery - the penalty for which was death. Susanna, however, spurned them and they duly made their false accusation. She was charged and condemned to die, but at the last minute the youthful Daniel - the future prophet - cross-examined the elders and established Susanna's innocence.

Lely here shows Susanna in her garden, still clothed. To the left is the stone bowl of a fountain topped with a classically inspired sculpture of a naked, weeping boy reclining on a camel, whose curved neck is seen in profile. The two elders, to the right, lean suggestively towards her… (read more)

About this artwork

Find similar artworks