Susanna and the Elders is a theme from the Old Testament often depicted by Rembrandt, particularly in his drawings. Among these, in the '30s, one finds a sepia and a pen drawing inspired by the painting executed
by his master Pieter Lastman in 1614. An X-ray examination of this painting shows that the design has been altered many times; besides, the animated gesturing which characterized Lastman's work has disappeared.
Rembrandt's interpretation of the subject is marked also by his use of monuments and landscape which are no longer anecdotal but are essential to the plastic structure of the composition. Finally, the link between Susanna and the elders is no longer intellectual and anonymous as in Lastman but sensual and individualized. The picture introduces the psychological novel.