Pompeo Batoni Lucca (1708 -1787) SUSANNA AND THE ELDERS
This prompt suggested by the fabulous May More from @more_matters. Thanks May!
I am aware of the non-consensual nature of this subject and I’m not celebrating it. I’m also appreciative of Mrs Fever’s remarks re Danae and Zeus in her #ArtTwist3 entry. However I do like that justice was served – eventually. Although it could have all gone horribly wrong as it has for many women condemned as sluts and whores over the years. As has been much discussed in recent months patriarchal attitudes have shaped our histories and our culture. Feel free to make your entry as political as you wish… The responses do not have to reflect this moment in the story by any means.
Taken from a Christian old Testament story, the idea of Susanna being accosted by voyeuristic powerful men was a popular theme for many Renaissance painters and their patrons as evident in the wikipedia entry for the topic. Some things don’t change readily do they… The artistic interest in the subject matter continues to recent times with Picasso also doing a version. The story has spawned several opera’s and an oratio by Handel.
According to the WebGallery of art this painting was created in 1751 – which was fairly late in the grand scheme of things, given that it became a popular topic in the late 1400’s. It was painted for an important collector Ernst Guido, Graf von Harrach, and remained in the family’s collection for nearly 250 years, no doubt providing status and titillation to selected viewers.
Because it’s been a long while since I’ve looked at the “good book” I turned to Wikipedia again (I know, I know; what kind of semi-retired academic am I?) for a summary of the story:
Apparently Susanna was a married woman who wanted to bathe in private so she sent her servants away. While Susanna was having her bath the two men in question somehow found out and decided to go have a look. Once she had finished her dip and was returning home, the two accosted her and demanded sex or they would say she was meeting a young man in the garden.
Susanna refused their demand and was in the process of being condemned to death by the legal system of the day when the veracity of the “gentlemen” in question, was questioned. As is often the case these days the outcome hung on questions of believability. A discrepancy in the evidence the men gave, gave the game away and they were executed. Susanna became a by-word for chastity. Although the men, it should be noted, did not become a by-word for predation.
I’m loving that word “chastity” because I know quite a few of the male submissives in the #SinfulSunday group could teach me a thing or five about the subject.
Perhaps it is your turn to shine?
On the other hand I’ve seen quite a few glorious bathtime images since I’ve been blogging so perhaps that’s an alternative approach.
And there is always the act of looking to consider…