Izaak van Oosten
Susanna and the Elders
Oil on copper, mounted on panel. 59.5 x 79 cm.
Little documentary evidence has survived to provide information on the life and training of the Flemish landscape painter Izaak van Oosten. We know that he was born in Antwerp, that his father was an art dealer, and that he entered the guild of Saint Luke in this city in 1652 at the comparatively advanced age of 39. He may have worked in his father's art dealership before that. Alongside panel paintings, van Oosten also created small plaques to decorate Antwerp painted cabinets. His oeuvre mainly consists of landscapes inspired by the works of Jan Brueghel the Elder and his son Jan Breughel the Younger. “However, van Oostens works differ from those of the Brueghels in their fine and detailed manner. […] a further significant difference to the Brueghels is that van Oosten was also fully capable of painting the slightly squat and rounded figures that populate his landscapes himself” (cited from Klaus Ertz' expertise, which is included with this lot).
Like so often in van Oosten's works, he chooses an idyllic panoramic park landscape, here with an elegant pavilion as a “point de vu”, as the setting for his Old Testament scene. The story is told in the book of Daniel, and relates how two respected judges espied Susanna, the wife of a wealthy man, bathing in her garden. “And the two elders saw her going in every day, and walking; so that their lust was inflamed toward her. And they perverted their own mind, and turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven, nor remember just judgments” (Dan. 13:8-9). The elders hid in the garden, surprised Susanna, and propositioned her. When she refused their advances, the two falsely accused her of adultery in revenge, and it was only through the wisdom of the prophet Daniel that Susanna's innocence, and the guilt of the two judges, was revealed. This motif was particularly popular with many artists, not only van Oosten, as it provided a discreet and graceful opportunity to depict an attractive female nude.
Klaus Ertz, Lingen, 22.7.2016.