Susanna, Two Depictions

I’ve mused on these pages before how difficult I’ve found the search for (what I would consider) good images of the Susanna story in Daniel 13. Just close my eyes and go to Mass on the fifth Monday in Lent–hey! Like today.

Valentin de Boulogne, an early 17th century French painter has everybody getting handsy:

Unlike many other paintings I’ve seen, the elders don’t look so old to me. Slimy, threatening, and all who-me? Susanna’s children being supportive, and the one robed in rose seems to appeal to the viewer, “Won’t you help my mommy?” 

I’d like to think the soldier, upper right, was Susanna’s husband, Joachim, but I suspect not. The innocent lady might have praised God for deliverance, but I’d like to think her spouse had his own work of contrition and perhaps lots of groveling for doubting the mother of his children.

The Art Institute of Chicago has a triptych: accusation, perjury, and execution from an unknown artist about five-hundred years ago:

Noticing how Susanna is robed in red and blue; Daniel in rose. Two modestly leafy trees in the depiction, similar, but decidedly different–maybe they’re the representation of the elders’ conspiracy. Next time I’m in Chicago–which I hope is this summer–I have to see this live.

For those in need of deliverance, Susanna’s prayer from the book of Daniel:

Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things for which these men have condemned me. (13:42-43)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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