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Flemish tapestry, Joseph Tempted by Potiphar’s Wife
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
17th century
Material and technique
wool and silk
315 x 265 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
This is a liberal interpretation of one of twenty tapestries forming the famous cycle The Story of Joseph, based on cartoons by Agnolo Bronzino, Jacopo Pontormo and Francesco Salviati and woven between 1546 and 1553 by the Flemish weavers Jan Rost and Nicolas Karcher, who worked in the Florentine manufactory set up by Cosimo I de Medici (1519-1574). Karcher wove the tapestry of Joseph Fleeing from Potiphar’s Wife, the famous original on which this early 17th century work is based.
Joseph, favourite son of Jacob, was sold by his brothers, becoming the household slave of Potiphar, a wealthy official in the court the Egyptian pharaoh (Book of Genesis, 37-50). In this episode from the Bible, bordered with a rich festoon of fruit and flowers, Joseph is depicted in elegant 16th century dress as he rejects the advances of Potiphar’s wife. Offended by Joseph’s refusal, the woman takes revenge by accusing the young man of trying to rape her and having him thrown into prison. The scene here does not take place in a closed environment, as in the original tapestry, but against the background of a country landscape; the perspective is created by the perpendicular lines of the canopied bed and marble flooring.
Joseph Tempted by Potiphar’s Wife
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