This carved ivory relief depicts the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders. After bathing alone in a garden, the beautiful young Susanna struggles against two lustful men. One man clutches at her elbow and drapery, while she pushes against his wrist. The other man digs his fingers into the flesh of her upper arm as she raises it above her head in dismay.

The relief is carved from a single piece of ivory tusk and demonstrates the virtuosic carving skills of the artist Francis van Bossuit. The undercutting of the branches and leaves in high relief at the top shows particular technical daring. The high polish of her skin appears even more delicate and pristine against the disheveled hair and beards of the leering old men and the rough textures of the tree trunk and background landscape.

Made of a rare and expensive material, this object was created as one of new genre of small-scale collectable reliefs he created for private collectors. The work was owned by Dutch collector, Petronella de la Court, who, together with her husband, Adam Oortmans, owned about ten other ivories by the same artist. Oortmans may have learned ivory carving under the sculptor.


  • Title: Susanna and the Elders (Back)
  • Creator: Francis van Bossuit
  • Date Created: about 1690
  • Location Created: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Physical Dimensions: 26 × 15.9 cm (10 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Plaque
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Ivory, with carved and gilded wood frame
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 2011.12
  • Culture: Flemish
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Francis van Bossuit (Flemish, 1635 - 1692)
  • Classification: Decorative Art (Art Genre)

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