Susanna and the Elders

Artemisia Gentileschi, Susanna and the Elders, 1610. Oil on canvas, Schönborn Collection, Pommersfelden, Germany.

This is one of Gentileschi’s earliest works and certainly the only painting of this subject done by a woman who experienced rape and the torture during the subsequent trial. The subject is framed quite closely, simply a bench where a nude woman sits recoiling from two men who lean over a wall. Susanna’s gestures indicate more horror than many other treatments of this topic and Gentileschi achieves an emotional power by stripping down the scene and focusing on victimization.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Susanna and the Elders, 1610. Oil on canvas, Schönborn Collection, Pommersfelden, Germany.

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