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Suzanna and the Elders

20th Century
15 7/8 in. x 17 15/16 in. (40.32 cm x 45.56 cm)

Frank van Sloun, American, (1879–1938)

Object Type: Works on Paper
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Etching on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Thomas Andert
Accession Number: 1980.11.25
Suzanna and the Elders is an early twentieth century etching on paper by the American artist Frank van Sloun. The work is one in a series of three etchings on display, each depicting different scenes from the Old Testament story of Suzanna and the prophet Daniel. The married Suzanna is bathing when two men—the Elders—ambush her and tell her she must have sex with them or they will besmirch her name. She refuses and the Elders spread rumors of her fabricated adultery. She is put on trial, where Daniel steps in and proves her innocence. It is most common for artists to ignore the latter part of the narrative, instead focusing on the intense and highly emotional part of the story, describing this creepy and disturbing intrusion of the Elders while Suzanna is bathing. This etching heightens the intensity of an already dramatic moment by throwing the background into shadowy darkness, making visible only the faces of the three characters, highlighting the anguish on Suzanna's face as she twists and turns, trying to get away from the prying hands of the old and craggy, lecherous Elders.

--Abby Massarano, December 2013

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Image Dimensions: 4 3/4 in. x 6 3/4 in. (12.07 cm x 17.15 cm)
  • Sheet Dimensions: 15 7/8 x 17 15/16 in. (40.32 x 45.56 cm)

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