Joseph Accused by Potiphar’s Wife

Rembrandt Van Rijn, Joseph Accused by Potiphar's Wife, 1655. Oil on canvas, Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin, Germany.

Rembrandt explored this subject several times in different mediums. The traditional interpretation of the story in Genesis 39 is that although in an apparently vulnerable position, Joseph was able to resist the allure of a foreign woman and a foreign culture and that God favored him in everything he did. In contrast to the biblical story, at this time in his life, Rembrandt was not favored in anything he did. His wife has died; he is a single father, struggling in his work life. And he is being sued by a woman who charges that he promised to marry her.
This painting was executed by one of Rembrandt’s workshop assistants after Rembrandt had determined the subject matter and composition. Maybe that’s why it looks more like a law court re-creation of evidence than a depiction of a wife accusing a servant of rape.


Rembrandt Van Rijn, Joseph Accused by Potiphar

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