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The subject is taken from the Old Testament. Two community elders lust after the virtuous Jewish wife, Susanna. They hide in the garden where she bathes and threaten that, unless she sleeps with them, they will publicly accuse her of adultery. She rejects them, and they carry out their threat, but her innocence is proved by the prophet Daniel. Lely was born in Soest, Germany, though his family came from The Hague, in the Netherlands. After training in Haarlem, he arrived in England in the early 1640s. Lely was appointed Principal Painter to Charles II in 1660 and became the leading portrait painter in Britain.

February 2016