Susanna and the Elders

Object Details


Susanna and the Elders


Francis van Bossuit (Flemish, 1635 - 1692)




Amsterdam, Netherlands (Place created)


about 1690


Ivory, with carved and gilded wood frame


26 × 15.9 cm (10 1/4 × 6 1/4 in.)

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This carved ivory relief depicts the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders. After bathing alone in a garden, the beautiful young Susanna struggles against two lustful men. One man clutches at her elbow and drapery, while she pushes against his wrist. The other man digs his fingers into the flesh of her upper arm as she raises it above her head in dismay.

The relief is carved from a single piece of ivory tusk and demonstrates the virtuosic carving skills of the artist Francis van Bossuit. The undercutting of the branches and leaves in high relief at the top shows particular technical daring. The high polish of her skin appears even more delicate and pristine against the disheveled hair and beards of the leering old men and the rough textures of the tree trunk and background landscape.

Made of a rare and expensive material, this object was created was one of new genre of small-scale collectable reliefs he created for private collectors. The work was owned by Dutch collector, Petronella de la Court, who, together with her husband, Adam Oortmans, owned about ten other ivories by the same artist. Oortmans may have learned ivory carving under the sculptor.

about 1690 - 1707

Petronella de la Court, 1625 - 1707 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) [sold, De la Court Collection, Oude Heeren Logement, by Kornelia de Wit, Amsterdam, October 20-21, 1707.]

- 1745

Count Jan Hendrik Wassenaar van Obdam, 1683 - 1745 (The Hague, the Netherlands), by inheritance to his brother, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaar, 1745.

1745 - 1766

Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaar van Obdam, 1692 - 1766 [sold, Wassenaar Collection, Oude Zyds Heeren Logement, by Arnoldus Dankmeyer, Amsterdam, lot 9, to Jan Bisschop.]

1769 - 1771

Jan Bisschop, 1680 - March 5, 1771 (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) [sold, Bisschop Collection, by Laurens Constant en Zoon, Rotterdam, July 15, 1771, lot 177, to Pieter Locquet.]

1771 - 1783

Pieter Locquet, died 1781? (probably Amsterdam, the Netherlands) [sold, Locquet Collection, Oude Zyds Heeren Logement, by Arnoldus Dankmeyer en Zoon, Amsterdam, September 22, 1783, lot 46, to John Hope.]

1783 - 1784

John Hope, 1737 - 1784, by inheritance to his wife, Philippina Barbara Hope-van der Hoeven, 1784.

1784 - 1789

Philippina Barbara Hope-van der Hoeven, 1738 - 1790, by inheritance to her son, Thomas Hope, 1789.

1789 -

Thomas Hope, English, born Netherlands, 1769 - 1831 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands; possibly sold before 1795 when Thomas Hope moved to London, England.)

- 1953

Private Collection [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 19, 1953, lot 318.]

- 2008

Private Collection [sold, Gros & Delettrez, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 18, 2008, lot 181, to Daniel Katz.]


Daniel Katz Ltd., sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011.


Kornelia de Wit, Amsterdam. Catalogus van een Partye Uitmuntende Schoone Rariteiten, een Kabinet van Root Koninks Hout [...] nagelaten by Petronella Dela Court, wed: wylen Adam Oortmans, in zyn leeven Brouwer in de Swaan. October 20-21, 1707, p. 19.

Pool, Mattys. Cabinet de l'art de schulpture, par le fameux sculpteur Francis van Bossuit, executé en yvoire ou ebauche en terre / Beeld-Snyders, Kunst-Kabinet, door den Vermaarden Beeldsnyder Francis van Bossuit, in [...] (Amsterdam: Mattys Pool, 1727), unpaginated, fig. 11.

Arnoldus Dankmeyer, Amsterdam. Catalogus van de Wydvermaarde en Alom Bekende Kabinetten met Rariteiten en Kostbaarheeden [...] Heer Jan Hendrik, Graave en Baanderheere van en tot Wassenaar en Zuydwyk, Heere van Obdam. October 25, 1769, pp. 90-91, lot 9.

Arnoldus Dankmeyer, Amsterdam. Catalogue du celebre & très renommé cabinet de curiosités precieuses et de raretés [...] par feu Messire Jean Henri, Comte & Seigneur Banneret de Wassenaar, et Sluidwyk, et Seigneur d'Obdam. October 25, 1769, p. 80, lot 9.

Constant, Rotterdam. Catalogus van Beroemde Kostbaarheden, Nagelaten door den Heere Jan Bisschop [...]. July 15, 1771, p. 87, lot 177.

Arnoldus Dankmeyer, Amsterdam. Catalogus van Zeer Fraaye Rariteyten, Bestaande in Stand- en Borst-Beelden, Groepen, Vaazen, Basrelieven [...] Alles in Veele Jaaren byeen Verzamelt en Nagelaaten door den Wel Edele Heer Pieter Locquet. September 22, 1783, p. 11, lot 46.

Niemeijer, J. W. "De Kunstverzameling van John Hope." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 32, special no. Verzamelen in Nederland (1981), p. 211, no. 386.

Scholten, Frits. "Een Ijvore Mars van Francis, de Beeldsnijder Van Bossuit en de Familie De la Court." Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 47, No. 1 (1999), p. 42n40.

Gros & Delettrez, Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Photographies, tableaux, mobilier, et objets d'art. June 18, 2008, pp. 60-61, 70-71, lot 181, ill., back cover ill.

Warren, Jeremy. "Bathsheba and Susanna: Two Ivory Reliefs by Francis van Bossuit." In Barocke Kunststückh: Festschrift für Christian Theuerkauff / Sculpture Studies in Honour of [...]. Rigine Marth and Marjorie Trusted, eds. (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2011), pp. 66, 69-72, fig. 4.

Schmidt, Eike. Francis van Bossuit. The Third Dimension (Munich: Hans Michel Print GmbH, 2014), pp. 9, 16, 19, figs. 4, 13, 16.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 261, ill.