The Return of Joseph

John Michael Rysbrack Flemish

Not on view

This drawing belongs to a group by Rysbrack inspired by the Old Testament story of Joseph, although the traditional title is puzzling, since Joseph never returned to Canaan from Egypt in the Genesis account. The short beardless youth may be Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin, in which case the image could represent the moment that Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers in Egypt (Genesis 45.14). The group around the altar at left echoes elements found in carved relief overmantles that Rysbrack made for Clandon Park, Surrey, and Houghton Hall, Norfolk in the 1720s. His ultimate source was an antique sculpture titled "Sacrifice of a Bull" reproduced in engraving for Bernard de Montfaucon’s book "L’Antiquité Expliquée" (1719).

The Return of Joseph, John Michael Rysbrack (Flemish, Antwerp 1694–1770 London), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, with white heightening, on gray paper (once blue).

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