Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Joseph Interpreting the Dreams of His Fellow Prisoners

Master of the Story of Joseph (Netherlandish, ca. 1500)
Oil on wood
Diameter 61 1/2 in. (156.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 16
Charles de Croy, duc d'Arschot, Schloß Beaumont, Hennegau, Germany (until d. 1612; inv. 1613, mentions six round represenations of the Story of Joseph); ?principe di San Donato, Paris and Florence; von Heyl collection, Worms, Germany (by 1923–at least 1931); [Tommy Grange (formerly Graupe), until 1953; sold to Agnew]; [Agnew, London, 1953; sold to MMA]
Max J. Friedländer. "Die Brüsseler Tafelmalerei gegen den Ausgang des 15. Jahrhunderts." Belgische Kunstdenkmäler. Ed. Paul Clemen. Munich, 1923, vol. 1, p. 314, fig. 329, attributes four tondi representing the Legend of Saint Joseph in the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin, and two in a private collection, Worms (including the present work), to the "Master of the Joseph Legend," noting that a 1613 inventory of the duc de Croy lists six round paintings representing the Joseph story; attributes to the same hand eight panels presumably from two altarpieces from the Afflighem Abbey and now in the Brussels Gallery [Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels]; concludes that these works were produced in Brussels and destined for a court audience and are roughly contemporary with Colyn de Coter, although the style is more sober and unpretentious; based on costume, dates the works between 1490 and 1500.

Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, p. 372.

Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 4, Hugo van der Goes. Berlin, 1926, pp. 11–17, 143, no. 79, pl. 61.

A. E. Popham. "Die Josefslegende." Berliner Museen 52 (1931), pp. 73, 75, believes the Berlin roundel is part of the Joseph series and identifies the subject as Joseph's wedding with Asenath.

Edward S. King. "Two Panels by the Master of the Joseph Legend." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 6 (1943), p. 41.

P. Wescher in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 37, Leipzig, 1950, p. 167.

Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, p. 121, ascribes it to the Master of the Afflighem Abbey and dates the artist's activity to the end of the 15th century.

Gert von der Osten and Horst Vey. Painting and Sculpture in Germany and the Netherlands 1500 to 1600. Baltimore, 1969, p. 144, observes that this scene "recalls the heavy fatefulness in Goes's subject matter".

Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 4, Hugo van der Goes. New York, 1969, pp. 64, 80, no. 79E, pl. 71.

D. De Vos in Primitifs flamands anonymes. Exh. cat., Groeninge Museum. Tielt, Belgium, 1969, p. 124.

Peter Eikemeier in Alte Pinakothek München: Erläuterungen zu den Ausgestellten Gemälden. Munich, 1983, p. 323.

Catheline Périer-d'Ieteren in The Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 20, New York, 1996, p. 702.

From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, p. 406, ill.

Albert Châtelet. Rogier van der Weyden: Problèmes de la vie et de l'oeuvre. Strasbourg, 1999, p. 262, suggests that the painter may have been a descendent of Rogier van der Weyden.

Pascale Syfer-d'Olne et al. The Flemish Privitives IV: Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Vol. 4, Masters with Provisional Names. Brussels, 2006, pp. 23, 50, 79, colorpl. 2a.

The story represented here is taken from Genesis, chapter 40. Joseph stands at the left and interprets the dreams of Pharoah's butler and baker, who had been imprisoned with him. The butler dreamed of filling Pharaoh's cup from the vine, and the baker dreamed that birds ate bakemeats intended for Pharaoh from a basket on his head. Joseph interprets these dreams to mean that the butler will return to Pharaoh's favor and the baker will be hung in three days.
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