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mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Susanna and the Elders

Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini

Susanna and the Elders - Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini

18th century
oil on canvas
117cm x 99cm
Dijon, Musée Magnin
© RMN / Franck Raux

View this work in the exhibition Bathing

The work

Pellegrini's Susanna looks slightly foolish. She is scratching her head, as if she is thinking over the elders' proposition. They appear rather cool, teasing a little, like two mischievous children. The bare breast is a suggestive affectation peculiar to the 18th century style. Yet the colors of the painting are soft and subtle, unquestionably Venetian. The background with its pale green and blue sky works particularly well and proves that the painter was a skilled decorative artist. Pellegrini is a minor painter but his palette is thought perhaps to have influenced that of the younger Tiepolo, born in Venice in 1696.

The artist

Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini is what is termed a Rococo painter, to avoid using the word kitsch. He was born in Venice in about 1675. Between 1708 and 1713, he worked extensively in England, at the invitation of Lord Manchester who had been the British Ambassador in Venice. He then traveled in the Netherlands and Germany, and returned to England in 1719. He worked as decorator to the principle European courts and was admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris in 1733 with Painting and Drawing Educating Love, which now hangs in the Louvre. He died in Venice in 1741.