BRIDGET WHELAN writer

Muse, News and Views

Sexual harassment depicted by a 17th century woman artist — inspiring paintings for writers

Susanna and the elders

I found this painting because I follow @womtureensart1 on twitter. Every day I meet new artists and discover new paintings, sculpture, photographs. Go follow – it’s a breath of fresh air.
I chose this painting for a lot of reasons, but first a few basics. The subject is a bibical story I’ve never come across before. Here it is (edited from Wikipedia).

…as a fair Hebrew wife named Susanna bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lustful elders secretly observe her. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, threatening to claim that she was meeting a young man in the garden unless she agrees to have sex with them.
She refuses to be blackmailed and is about to be put to death for promiscuity when a young man interrupts the proceedings, shouting that the elders should be questioned to prevent the death of an innocent. After being separated, the two men are cross-examined but can’t agree about the details of their story, and are revealed to be liars. They are duly executed.

The painting is by a woman, as you probably guesssed.

Atemisia Gentileschi completed it when she was just 17 years old. The year was 1610 when William Shakespeare was still writing, Michelangelo still painting and King James I was King of England and Scotland.

It was completed before Atemisia was raped by fellow artist Tassi and might well be based on the sexual harassment she was suffering from him and other artists at the time.

So where could that take you in your writing:
A crime revealed in a creative work?
Susanna’s story from her point of view? And remember the power these two men had over her. She stood up to them but she nearly died as a result.
Find out more about Atemisia Gentileschi. Could she be the subject of a historical drama?

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4 comments on “Sexual harassment depicted by a 17th century woman artist — inspiring paintings for writers

  1. Kate McClelland
    March 18, 2017

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

    • bridget whelan
      March 19, 2017

      Glad you like it Kate

      • Kate McClelland
        March 19, 2017

        I saw a documentary on this painter a while back, very interesting story. She was obviously a force to be reckoned with!

  2. bridget whelan
    March 20, 2017

    I know so little about her – this painting was an introduction – but I am finding out more and she is fascinating.

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2017 by in Inspiring pictures and tagged , , .
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