Willem van Mieris belonged to a family of artists and apprenticed with his father Frans van Mieris, whose drawings are also on display in this exhibition. Like his father, Willem was celebrated for his polished style and technical skill, which he employed in his classical and biblical scenes. The artist drew the subject of Susannah and the Elders on numerous occasions, likely because it offered an opportunity to depict female nudity, a dramatic and emotional situation, and an example of immoral behavior.
Highly finished drawings like this were often intended for sale on the open market. Its vellum support (calfskin) offered a smoother and finer quality surface and was more valuable than paper, making such drawings especially appealing to collectors.