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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Susanna and the Elders

Lovis Corinth

Susanna and the Elders- Lovis Corinth

oil on canvas
150.3cm x 111cm
Hannover, Landesmuseum
© Blauel/Gnamm - ARTOTHEK

View this work in the exhibition Bathing

The work

Lovis Corinth's Susanna occupies a narrow gap between Expressionism and abstract art. When he did this watercolor in 1923, the painter was himself 65 years old and the odds are that he placed himself on the side of the lustful elders. This is why they appear more jovial than threatening. As for Susanna, a well-rounded, buxom, desirable woman, she is negotiating with the two men, face to face, on equal terms. This is not therefore a fearful Susanna, or even the chaste Susanna of the myth, but a modern, sensual woman of the kind favored and painted by the earthy Corinth, who often liked to portray himself as a merry Bacchus.

The artist

Lovis Corinth was a great artist who remained unknown outside his country for a long time. He was born in East Prussia in 1858 and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Königsberg, followed by the Munich Academy in 1880 before making the ritual journey to Paris in 1884, where he joined the studio of Bouguereau and the Académie Julian. But Corinth returned to Germany and remained there. He lived initially in Berlin, then in Munich in 1891, before settling definitively in Berlin in 1901 where, along with Max Liebermann (another great but little known painter), he became a member and later (from 1915 until his death in 1925), President of the Berlin Secession. Defying classification, Corinth is often situated halfway between Impressionism (which he flirted with for a while) and Expressionism. In fact, Corinth is an independent artist who was able to break free of the conventions of the day and invent a sumptuous form of Expressionism bordering on abstract art.