Joseph and Potiphar's Wife

Object Details


Joseph and Potiphar's Wife


Guido Reni (Italian, 1575 - 1642)




Italy (Place created)


about 1630


Oil on canvas


128.9 x 170 cm (50 3/4 x 66 15/16 in.)

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After the young Joseph's jealous brothers sold him into slavery, Potiphar, captain of the Pharaoh's guard, purchased him as a household slave. Realizing his abilities, Potiphar soon made Joseph overseer of the household.

Potiphar's wife also recognized the young man's talents and tried to seduce him. Shown here, she clutches at Joseph's robes and begs him to make love to her. Joseph refuses, raises his left hand as if to shield himself from her, and turns to flee. The two figures are caught in a struggle: Joseph pulls back while the seductress reaches out to grasp his cloak. Flowing, shimmering draperies and the figure's gestures express Joseph's entrapment, both by Potiphar's wife and by the cloak. In his haste, he will leave his cloak behind in her hands; humiliated, she will accuse Joseph of attempted rape, using the cloak as evidence.


Lorenzo Pasinelli, 1629 - 1700 (Bologna, Italy)

by 1706 - 1712

Senator Francesco Ghisilieri, 1650 - 1712 (Bologna, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Antonio Ghisilieri.

by 1712 - possibly 1721-1727

Antonio Ghisilieri (Bologna, Italy)

by 1734 - 1753

Tommaso Ruffo, archbishop of Ferrara, 1663 - 1753 (Bologna, Italy; Ferrara, Italy; Rome, Italy), by inheritance to Litterio Ruffo di Bagnara, 2nd Duke of Baranello.

by 1762

Litterio Ruffo di Bagnara, 2nd Duke of Baranello, 1704 - 1772 (Naples, Italy), by inheritance to his son, Vincenzo Ruffo di Bagnara.

1772 -

Vincenzo Ruffo di Bagnara, 3rd Duke of Baranello (Naples, Italy)

Private Collection (Lugano, Switzerland)

- 1993

Compagnie des Beaux Arts LTD (Lugano, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993.

Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna 1575-1725 (December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009) (pl. 16)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009
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