The theme of the Old Testament is reproduced here in an unusual way as a remarkably calm scene, so that not the physical urgency of the two old men. As always, so too is the biblical theme cause and pretext to bring the female nude in the picture. The beautifully presented slim female figure, here only scantily clad, a breast released between the yellow cloths, corresponds to the elegant Mannerist taste of the time, also concerning the soft contours, the Sfumato, which here belongs exclusively to the female figure. The upper body of Susanna placed almost diagonally in the picture, in contrast to the two almost vertically rendered male figures in the background. The right bearded old man looks down at the young beauty with his hand held high, which is supposed to indicate his persuasion. Only the left male figure makes eye contact with the viewer. More on this painting
Vincent Sellaer (1490–1564), was a Flemish Renaissance painter known for his mythological and religious subjects. His works stand out through their monumentality of form and their mixing of Italian and northern styles.
Very few biographical details of this artist are known with any level of certainty, other than that he flourished in Mechelen around 1538.
While there is still no consensus among scholars, a majority believe that Vincent Sellaer should be identified with the artist to whom the early 17th century biographer Karel van Mander referred as Vincent Geldersman. Van Mander described Sellaer as a good painter of allegories, such as Leda with two eggs, Susanna and the elders, and Cleopatra with the asp. Van Mander mentioned him in his Life of Frans Minnebroer as one of the notable painters of Mechelen. While many known versions of a Leda and the Swan have been attributed to Sellaer, none has survived that depicts a Leda with eggs.
Some art historians such as G.J. Hoogewerff have speculated that Sellaer worked for some time in Brescia and may have visited other Italian cultural centres. This Italian stay would be situated in the years 1521 to 1524.
Scholars believe that Sellaer was the foremost painter in Mechelen, and his patrons were likely members of the court and the city’s Great Council. More on Vincent Sellaer
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