Joseph the Patriarch: The Iconography

GENESIS 37, 39-50

I have not seen enough images of Joseph the Patriarch to generalize about the iconography. Biagio d'Antonio painted two companion tableaux of Joseph's life story: this one in which Joseph's brothers sell him to slave traders headed for Egypt (Genesis 37), and the one pictured above, with the continuation of the story (Genesis 39-50).

The Old Testament frescos at Pomposa Abbey also trace the story in four panels: Joseph's Dream and his brothers' envy (Genesis 37:1-11); Joseph Sold by His Brothers, who then lie about it to Jacob (Genesis 37:12-36); Joseph Hosts His Brothers in Egypt (Genesis 43); and Jacob Blesses His Sons (Genesis 49).

There is also a 14th-century manuscript in Basel, Switzerland, that illustrates Joseph's story in eleven pen-and-ink pictures.

Prepared in 2016 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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SHOWN ABOVE:
Biagio d'Antonio, The Story of Joseph, late 15th or early 16th century. See the description page for an explanation of the various scenes.

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A 5th-century mosaic in Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore: The brothers show Jacob the bloody coat. (See the description page.)

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