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Leonello Spada

LAUDON CASTLE – TREASURE AUCTION!

Los 7 Auktion

Leonello Spada

Estimated price: € 4.000 / 8.000
USD: 4.296 / 8.592 $GBP: 3.385 / 6.770 £
Starting price:  2.000
  • USD: 2.148 €
  • GBP: 1.692 €
  • USD: 2.148 $
  • GBP: 1.692 £
USD: 2.148 $GBP: 1.692 £

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Leonello Spada

Leonello Spada
Bologna 1576 – 1622 Parma, attributed
Susanna bathing
Oil on canvas, relined
161 x 123 cm, with frame 177 x 140 cm
Old exhibition label on the reverse

Leonello Spada was an Italian painter from Bologna who established himself as a prominent successor to Caravaggio. Spada was initially trained by the Carracci brothers, who had a great influence on the Baroque movement. Spada’s encounter with Caravaggio’s revolutionary style during his time in Rome had a lasting impact on his artistic direction. Spada’s works are often characterised by intense contrasts of light and shadow, dynamic compositions, and a pronounced sense of realism – features that are characteristic of Caravaggio’s influence.

The painting shows the important subject of Susanna bathing and depicts the biblical story of Susanna from the Book of Daniel. In this story, Susanna, a virtuous and beautiful woman, is bathing in her garden when she is approached by two elderly men who have hidden to watch her. When she rejects their advances, they falsely accuse her of adultery, which leads to her trial. However, the young prophet Daniel intervenes, proves her innocence, and condemns the elders.

In Spada’s depiction, Susanna is in the foreground, her naked figure partially turned away from the viewer in a gesture of shame and distress. Her dramatic gestures and expressive face convey her shock and fear as she tries to cover herself and escape from the men at the same time. The two older men in the upper left corner of the composition look down at her from behind a fence, their sinister intentions clear in their body language and facial expressions.

The setting is a fenced-in garden, symbolising both Susanna’s privacy and the invasion of that privacy by the intruding elders. A tree in the background adds depth to the composition and serves as a natural barrier, reinforcing the closed and intimate nature of the scene. The contrast between Susanna’s innocence and purity and the depraved, predatory nature of the elders is clearly emphasised by Spada’s skilful use of light and shadow, drawing the viewer’s attention to the central figures and their interaction.

Spada’s mastery of Caravaggio’s techniques is evident in the naturalism of the figures and the dramatic intensity of the scene. The emotional tension and moral themes of virtue and vice are powerfully conveyed, making this painting a compelling depiction of the biblical story and a testament to Spada’s artistic skill.

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