Joseph in Prison Interpreting the Dreams of Pharoah's Baker and Butler

Object Details

Title:

Joseph in Prison Interpreting the Dreams of Pharoah's Baker and Butler

Artist/Maker(s):

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

about 1639

Medium:

Pen and brown ink on light brown prepared paper; Joseph is on a separate, irregularly cut sheet

Dimensions:

20 x 18.7 cm (7 7/8 x 7 3/8 in.)

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While imprisoned, Joseph, shown here standing to the left, interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh's butler and baker, also thrown into jail for offending their master. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn conveyed the moment when the baker, in a flat cap, discovers that Pharaoh will have him hanged in three days. The butler, who learns that he will be restored to his position, leans forward, hands clasped, listening intently. Joseph's predictions for these two came true, and his interpretation of Pharaoh's dream saved all of Egypt two years later.

As with most of his compositional studies of religious subjects, Rembrandt probably made this drawing not as a preparatory study for a project but for its own sake. His working methods were highly experimental; he himself may have joined together the two sheets of paper that comprise this drawing. On one sheet he developed detailed studies of the butler and baker; on the other he captured Joseph with the fewest pen marks possible. Rembrandt used iron-gall ink, originally black but now faded to brown.

Exhibitions
Dutch Drawings of the Golden Age (May 28 to August 25, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 25, 2002
Drawings by Rembrandt and His Pupils: Telling the Difference (December 8, 2009 to February 28, 2010) (7d)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 8, 2009 to February 28, 2010