Massimo Stanzione (Italian, Neapolitan, 1585–1656),
Susannah and the Elders
, ca. 1631–37
oil on canvas, 60 x 70 ¼ in.; 152.4 x 178.44 cm
Museum purchase, Collectors' Choice, 1983, 1983.27
The most prominent painter in Naples in the mid seventeenth century, Stanzione was an eclectic artist who was able to assimilate divergent artistic influences without sacrificing his own gifts for powerful narration and lyrical expression. Training with Caravaggio’s follower Giovanni-Battista Caracciolo, he learned to paint in a style of unflinching naturalism marked by the use of extreme light and dark tones to give the effect of form emerging from deep shadow. In Susannah and the Elders he combines the sharp contrasts of light and shadow in his interpretation of the story of the virtuous young heroine who was falsely accused of adultery, even though rebuffing the advances of the two elders who plotted to seduce her.