Biagio d'Antonio, The Story of Joseph

Late 15th or early 16th century
Tempera on panel
First panel: The Getty Center
Second panel: Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the first panel, the narrative starts with the scene on the left side of the building, where Jacob embraces Benjamin with his left arm while telling Joseph (in the blue doublet) to go help his brothers in the fields. To the left of the building, we see Joseph walking toward the fields. We see him again in the scene framed by the arch, approaching his brothers, who decide to cast him into the cistern (Genesis 37:12-24).

Meanwhile, the Ishmaelite merchant and his associates descend from the hill in the upper left corner. He is labeled Mercator, "Merchant," rides a white horse, and wears a red cloak and black hat. He hands a bag of money to one of the brothers while others pull Joseph from the cistern (37:25-28).

Now the action returns to the building. On the right side we see the seated Jacob lamenting Joseph's "death" while the brothers present the evidence, the boy's coat covered with the blood of a goat.

Finally, on the right side, we see the merchant leading his people (Joseph included, presumably) onto the gangplank. Travelers and merchants fill out the lower right with goods that have arrived in the port.

In the second panel the arrangement of scenes is even less chronological than in the first panel. Joseph is the blond figure in green in every scene. In the background, from left to right, we see the arrival in Egypt, Joseph fleeing from the brown building with Potiphar's wife in pursuit, Joseph as Pharaoh's official entertaining his brothers, Joseph in prison.

In the foreground, again going from left to right, we see Joseph greeting his father outside the city gates, Joseph on a pageant wagon, Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream, and Pharaoh asleep and having that dream.

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Read more about images of Joseph the Patriarch.

Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.