The Swiss auction house had considered the 2ft 4in x 3ft 4in (72cm x 1.02m) oil on oak panel depicting the Old Testament scene of Susanna and the Elders to be an 18th century ‘school of’ painting. However, international trade bidding suggested speculation that the work bore at least the hand of Rubens’ workshop.
This is a variant of the larger panel by Rubens in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, dated to c.1636-40. The centre of the Munich picture has been painted over to include a view into the garden but the composition once featured Susanna’s black mantle, as does this painting.
A number of differences appear in the compositions of the two pictures and this painting has more details in common with a panel in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (part of the Henry G Marquand bequest) which is deemed a ‘workshop’ creation.
Other versions of the subject are discussed in Mark Carter Leach’s 1977 article ‘Rubens’ Susanna and the Elders’ in Munich and Some Early Copies.