LUCA GIORDANO (1634 – 1705), CIRCLE OF Susanna and the Elders
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Oil on canvas 173 x 123 cm Provenance: Private collection, Italy Luca Giordano was an Italian late-Baroque painter. Born in Naples, Luca Giordano studied in Rome, Parma and Venice and developed an elaborate Baroque style fusing Venetian and Roman influences. From 1692 to 1702 Giordano served as court painter to King Charles II of Spain decorating, among other important works, the ceilings of the Escorial, the Cathedral of Toledo, and the Buen Retiro in Madrid. Considered the leading Neapolitan painter of the 17th century, his work influenced many other artists in Italy, and he had many pupils and followers. His paintings express the drama of religious and mytholo- gical subjects in large-scale canvases and frescoes. The present grand scale painting is a representation of a biblical narrative from chapter 13 of the Book of Daniel: two elderly men are shown spying on a young married woman named Susanna. Susanna was taking a bath in her garden when the two elders came in. The elders spied on Susanna and then demanded sexual favors from her, which she refused. To take revenge, the men decided to ruin Susanna’s reputation and falsely accused her of adultery - a crime which was punishable by stoning. The young Daniel decided to help Susanna, he questioned the elders separately, and observed that details in the two elders’ stories did not match up. Their conflicting stories revealed the falsehood of their testimony, thus clearing Susanna’s name. The subject was relatively common in European art from the 16th century with Susanna exemplifying the virtues of modesty and fidelity. In practice however, it allowed artists the opportunity to display their skill in the depiction of female nudes, often for the pleasure of their male patrons.