Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1598-1657)

Joseph Distributing Corn in Egypt

Amsterdam, 1655

Oil on canvas

110.5 x 90 cm

Joseph, at the top right, oversees the sale of corn during a time of famine. 

According to the Old Testament, Joseph had stored the fruits of seven bountiful years and the people of Egypt, watched by the Pharoah, to the upper left, benefit from his foresight. Amongst the figures who buy corn, barter their goods and give charity are Joseph’s brothers (behind the camel).  They once sold him into slavery and now seek his aid. The Egyptian setting is established by the obelisk, but Breenbergh also includes Roman buildings which the Dutchman knew from his Italian journey (1619-29).

Purchased 1963 (No.63.1)


This work is on loan to the exhibition ‘Rembrandt’s Orient: West-East Encounter in 17th Century Dutch Art’ at the Kunstmuseum, Basel, 31 October 202 – 14 February 2021, and then to Museum Barberini, Potsdam, 13 March – 27 June 2021.

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