Susannah and the Elders, Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680).

Oil on canvas, 103.5cm by 150.5cm.

The painting depicts the story of the virtuous Susanna who was falsely accused of promiscuity by two elders whose advances she had rejected.

Sir Peter Lely, known chiefly for his superb portraits, only rarely painted history paintings, of which this is an outstanding example.

The painting came to Burghley as part of an immense bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689), to her daughter Anne (1649-1703), wife of John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700).

The bequest was recorded in an inventory known as the 1690 Devonshire Schedule, or Deed of Gift, which lists: ‘A Picture of Susanna and the two Elders in a Narrow Guilt fframe by Mr: Lily.’


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