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



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