Sunday, December 6, 2015

Guercino's Susannah at the Prado

Guercino
Susannah and the Elders
1617
Prado

It can seem as if every Italian painter who ever lived must have painted a version of Susannah and the Elders. Out of all the proliferating interpretations, Guercino's (above) is unusual for its restraint. Through sheer technical control he avoided the vulgarity that this "naughty" subject of the Biblical peepers tended to encourage in lesser artists. Susannah and the Elders was a youthful work created during Guercino's first long stay in Rome. At his stage, he stood in high favor with the ill and aging Ludovisi pope Gregory XV, whose portrait he painted (below).

Guercino
Portrait of Pope Gregory XV
ca. 1622-23
Getty

Guercino
St Augustine in Meditation
1636
Prado

Another important Guercino from the Prado appears above. "The picture represents the encounter between St. Augustine, meditating on the sea shore, and a boy in the act of scooping water from the sea into a sand pit with a shell. Upon enquiry, St Augustine discovered that the boy was attempting the impossible task of emptying the sea; he interpreted the incident as a symbol of the unfathomable mystery of God." 

Guercino
preliminary drawing for  St Augustine in Meditation
ca. 1636
British Museum

Guercino
Disinterested Love
ca. 1654
Prado

Guercino
Cupid
1630s
drawing
British Museum

Guercino
St. Lawrence dispensing alms
late 1630s
drawing
British Museum

Guercino
Bound woman rescued at night by a youth with a sword
ca. 1624-28
drawing
British Museum

Guercino
Christ appearing to St. Teresa
1634
drawing
British Museum

Guercino
Seated male figure
ca. 1618-19
drawing
Clark Art Institute

Guercino
Santa Inés
1650s
drawing
Prado

Guercino
Young woman with arms raised
17th century
drawing
British Museum