Joseph the Patriarch: The Iconography
The patriarch Joseph usually appears in narrative images illustrating Genesis 37-48. For the earlier episodes in his story he is usually pictured as a beardless youth with blond hair (in a fahsionable "bowl cut" in 15th-century images). A few images from the later episodes, where he is an important official, may give him a beard. His and his brothers' clothes will follow the fashions of the artist's time, but are never extravagant.

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  • 5th century: In a mosaic in Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore the brothers show Jacob the bloody cloak.
  • 1351-60: Four panels in the Old Testament frescos at Pomposa Abbey illustrate key moments in the story.
  • 1396: Rüdiger Schopf's eleven illustrations in a manuscript account of the story.
  • 1462: Joseph's story is illustrated in thirteen woodcuts notable for detailed and literal fidelity to the scriptural text in Die Vier Historien, folios 1r-12r. The woodcuts are also published in Strauss, LXXX, 29-32.
  • Late 15th / early 16th century: The picture above is from Biaggio d'Antonio's two tableaux of Joseph's story.
  • 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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