This entire composition is indicative of the artist's own life, which includes a number of traumatic events which taught her of the dangers posed by the opposite sex. Perhaps she even saw herself in Susanna, which would have helped her to draw on her emotions for this painting. One of the main strengths of this artist was her ability to get in tune with the emotions of the figures in her paintings, perhaps better than most male members of the Baroque era. She was also not afraid to offer a level of realism to her facial expressions which would shock some, but excite others, depending on their personal artistic taste. She would receive interest from a number of donors and art collectors because of her alternative artistic style, whilst others would simply not consider her because she was a woman.
Susanna and the Elders is a highly significant painting in the overall development of the artist, coming as it did early on in her career. She would only have been around seventeen at the time that she constructed this painting, making it all the more remarkable considerable the quality of work found within it. Many believed it to be by her father, such was the impressive nature of this work but soon it would be understood that his daughter possessed truly impressive technical skills herself. The story in religious scripture tells of how her reputation was damaged because she rejected the advances of these two men before finally her reputation was cleared with the aid of Daniel, a young man who decided to help this vulnerable young woman who was being taken advantage of. It is interesting to compare this artist's version of Susanna and the Elders with that of other famous artistic names, to see how a woman might address the theme differently - see Annibale Carracci's for example.
The original artwork from around 1610 can now be found at the Schloss Weißenstein in Pommersfelden, Bavaria, Southern Germany. The building itself is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture and now houses original paintings and sculptures from a number of highly respected European artists, besides just this piece from Artemisia. You will, for example, also find the likes of Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, Titian, Rembrandt and Anthony van Dyck represented here too, though always check ahead if there is a specific part of their collection that you would like to see. This is a rare opportunity to see such extraordinary art within Bavaria, as most of these artist's original paintings are now thinly spread right across Europe and North America.