Jan Massys was the son of painter Quentin Metsys. He left Antwerp in 1544 to travel to Italy and France, where he aligned himself with the School of Fountainebleau. When he returned to Antwerp, he popularized a style that emphasized the primacy of the figure set in complex poses, as well as discrepancies in scale between the figures and between the figures and their setting. His style is essentially subjective, based on an ideal of elegant artifice.
The story, taken from the Apocrypha, tells how a heroine's innocence and virtue triumph over villainy. Susanna, a married woman, is secretly desired by two elders of the community who plot to seduce her. She is shown dispatching her maids before beginning her bath; the elders lie in wait. Later she is falsely accused of adultery by the men, whose advances she refused, and is found guilty by a court and condemned to death. Her innocence is proven by the young prophet Daniel.
- Artist Name: Jan Massys (Flemish, c. 1509-1575)
- Title: Susanna and the Elders
- Date: 1564
- Medium: Oil on panel
- Dimensions: 42 x 77-1/2 in. (106.7 x 196.9 cm)
- Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
- Accession Number: M.2005.2.P
- Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation
M. and Mme. René Kieffer, Paris, (sale, Paris, Hôtel Georges V, 29 May 1969, lot 91, as "La chaste Suzanne et les vieillards," to);
Sylvia Blatas/Galerie René Drouet, Paris, sold 1969-06-11 to;
The Norton Simon Foundation, 2005-11-23 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.
The Expressive Body: Memory, Devotion, Desire (1400-1750)
- Norton Simon Museum, 2021-10-15 to 2022-03-07
Gerson, Horst, The Connoisseur, p. 163
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 636 p. 321
Norton Simon Museum, Selected Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum, p. 37
Wescher, Paul, Thieme-Becker 1907-1950, p. 227
Friedländer, Max J., Die Altniederländische Malerei, no. 14a
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 34
Mirimonde, A.P. de, Gazette des Beaux Arts, n. 13 pp. 550, 563
Friedländer, Max J., Early Netherlandish Painting, no. B14, pl. 9, fig. 14a
Koninklijke Musea voor schone kunsten van België, De eeuw van Bruegel. De shilderkunst in België in de 16e eeuw, under no. 161
Buijnsters-Smets, Leotine, Jan Massys: Een Antwerps schilder uit de zestiende eeuw, no. 47 pp. 81-82, 144-145, 210
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