Susannah and the Elders

Master of Apollo and DaphneMid-1490s

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Liverpool, United Kingdom

The biblical story of Susannah tells how she was left by her maids to bathe in the garden. Here she was spied upon by two elders of the community who threatened to accuse her of adultery if she did not yield to their demands. The painting combines three episodes from the story: in the centre, Susannah’s arrival in the garden; on the right, the departure of her maids; and on the left, her confrontation with the elders. The building on the right is typical of the architecture of 15th century Florence. The painting almost certainly belonged to a series illustrating the story of Susannah, which would have formed a decorative frieze.


  • Title: Susannah and the Elders
  • Creator: Master of Apollo and Daphne
  • Date Created: Mid-1490s
  • tag / style: Master of Apollo and Daphne; apocryphal; biblical; Old Testament; urban landscape; garden; Susannah and the Elders; town' loggia; water feature
  • Physical Dimensions: w1632 x h585 cm (Without frame)
  • Additional artwork information: The story of Susannah and the Elders is an instructive moral tale about lust and the corruption of officials. Susannah, whilst bathing naked, was spied upon by two elders of her tribe. When she confronted them they threatened to blackmail her if she refused to sleep with them. She refused and they accused her publicly of having committed adultery. For this she was condemned to death. The young Prophet Daniel was unconvinced of her guilt and decided to question each elder separately. He found serious inconsistencies in their accounts of what they had supposedly witnessed together. They in turn were sentenced to death and Susannah was freed and her reputation restored. Pictures like this which highlight the moral integrity expected of those holding public office were sometimes put in public buildings or civic spaces where such officials might gather. One can envisage this picture and its companions being, for example, in a small magistrates court or in a room where financial dealings were conducted, or in a merchant's tribunal room. To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery’s 13th – 16th century collection please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/13c-16c/
  • Type: Tempera on wood panel
  • Rights: Bequeathed by P H Rathbone in 1895

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