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Storytelling in Miniature

After Georg Pencz
German, about 1500–1550

Joseph Telling his Dream, from “The History of Joseph”

Engraving, 1544
4 1/4 x 2 15/16 in.
Gift of Carl B. Spitzer, 1914.140

In the biblical story Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob and most beloved of his father, recounts his dreams to his brothers and father. In the first dream, he and his brothers gather together sheaves of grain. The sheaves gathered by his elders bow down to those gathered by Joseph. In a second dream, the sun (Jacob), the moon (Joseph’s mother, Rachel), and 11 stars (Joseph’s brothers) bow down to Joseph himself.

According to the Book of Genesis, the jealousy of his brothers leads them to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt, where he eventually becomes a powerful official to the pharaoh (fulfilling his dreams’ prophecies).

This print and Joseph Being Lowered into the Well are reverse copies made by an unknown artist after the originals by Georg Pencz.