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Circa 1603-1611, possibly by Francis Hickes
Woven in wools and silks, depicting an episode from Susannah and the Elders, with Susannah being held by two soldiers and followed by two Elders, in front of them with Daniel saving her, within an open landscape with flowers and buildings in the distance, under a columned arch with flowers to the spandrels and within a floral border, to each side with female herm figures and to top and bottom with hunting scenes, to the bottom with a man and two dogs pursuing a fox and to the top with a man and two dogs following a hare, minor areas of reweaving and patching, within a later tortoiseshell frame, minor damages to frame
21 in. (53 cm.) square

Lot Essay

The story is set in Babylon. Susanna was desired by two elders of her community. She bathed daily in her garden and one day the two elders waited until her maid had left her and then sprang out on the unsuspecting Susanna. They demanded from her that she give herself to them or they would swear before court that she was seen by them in the act of adultery with a young man. She defied the threat and cried out for help. The men carried out their threat and she was condemned to death. At the last moment Daniel appeared and cross-examined the two men and elicited conflicting evidence and was thus able to prove her innocence.

The Sheldon workshop was established by William Sheldon near Barcheston in Warwickshire about 1561. It was continued under his son Ralph until at least 1611. The workshop originally consisted of two houses, one at Barcheston, later the head-quarters, under the direction of Richard Hyckes, and another at Bordesley under Thomas Chance. Francis Hickes took over the management of the workshop in 1603. Based on the design of the cushion, it can be assumed that he was the director of the workshop during the weaving of this subject. Various panels depicting the Story of Susanna and the Elders are illustrated in A.J.B. Wace, The Society of Antiquaries of London, vol. LXXVIII, Oxford, 1928, part II, plates XLII-XLVI.

A small panel depicting Susanna surprised while taking her bath, was sold anonymously in these Rooms, 30 October 1997, lot 211. Very similar hunting borders to the top and bottom are on a set of six tapestry panels depicting The Parable of the Prodigal Son (E.A. Standen, European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, vol. II, pp. 688-691, cat. 120).

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