Overview

After learning the fundamentals of drawing and painting in his native Leiden, Rembrandt van Rijn went to Amsterdam in 1624 to study for six months with Pieter Lastman (1583–1633), a famous history painter. Upon completion of his training Rembrandt returned to Leiden. Around 1632 he moved to Amsterdam, quickly establishing himself as the town’s leading artist, specializing in history paintings and portraiture. He received many commissions and attracted a number of students who came to learn his method of painting.

In the seventeenth century, history painting—the depiction of biblical, mythological, and allegorical scenes—was considered the pinnacle of artistic expression. Because such paintings required great imagination and dealt with fundamental moral and ethical issues, theorists ranked history painting before other subjects such as landscape, portraiture, and still life.

The story of Joseph fascinated Rembrandt, who made numerous drawings, prints, and paintings of this Old Testament figure. This particular work, however, was executed by one of Rembrandt’s workshop assistants after the master himself had determined the subject matter and composition. In this scene from the book of Genesis, chapter 39, Potiphar's wife, having failed to seduce Joseph, falsely accuses him of trying to violate her. Speaking to Potiphar, the wife points to the red robe Joseph left behind when he ran from her clutches, wickedly using the presence of the garment as evidence to support her accusation. In the biblical account, Joseph was not present, but the artist added poignancy to his visualization of the story by inserting Joseph on the far side of the bed. Rembrandt’s preoccupation with the theme of false accusation probably stemmed from the drawn-out lawsuit against him by Geertje Dirckx, a former companion, who claimed that he had promised to marry her.

Inscription

lower right: Rembrandt. f.1655.

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

Gerard Hoet, Jr. [d.1760], The Hague; (his sale, by Arnoldus Franken, The Hague, 25-26 August 1760, no. 44).[1] Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky [1710-1775], Berlin; acquired in 1763 by Catherine II, empress of Russia [1729-1796], Saint Petersburg; Imperial Hermitage Gallery, Saint Petersburg; sold January 1931, as a painting by Rembrandt, through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington; deeded 1 May 1937 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh;[2] gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1933
Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Rembrandt, Knoedler Galleries, New York, 1933, no. 10.
1934
A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1934, no. 105, repro.
1935
Rembrandt Tentoonstelling, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1935, no. 17.
1969
Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art [Commemorating the Tercentenary of the Artist's Death], National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, no. 13, repro.
1980
Gods, Saints & Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Detroit Institute of Arts; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1980-1981, no. 28, repro.
1984
In Quest of Excellence: Civic Pride, Patronage, Connoisseurship, Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, 1984, no. 52, repro.
1993
Painting the Bible in Rembrandt's Holland, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1993, no. 161, repro. (catalogue titled Rembrandt's Holland).
1994
Im Lichte Rembrandts: Das Alte Testament im Goldenen Zeitalter der niederländischen Kunst [Rembrandt and the Old Testament], Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster, 1994, no. 25, repro.
2003
Rembrandt and the Rembrandt School: The Bible, Mythology and Ancient History, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2003, no. 14, repro.
2006
Rembrandt : Quest of a Genius [Rembrandt - Zoektocht van een Genie] [Rembrandt - Genie auf der Suche], Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam; Kulturforum, Berlin, 2006, no. 63, repro.

Bibliography

1770
Hoet, Gerard. Catalogus of Naamlyst van Schilderyen. Supplement by Pieter Terwesten. The Hague, 1770: 225, no. 44
1773
Imperial Hermitage Museum [probably Ernst von Münnich, ed.] "Catalogue raisonné des tableaux qui se trouvent dans les Galeries, Sallons et Cabinets du Palais Impérial de S. Pétersbourg, commencé en 1773 et continué jusqu’en 1785.” 3 vols. Manuscript, Fund 1, Opis’ VI-A, delo 85, Hermitage Archives, Saint Petersburg,1773-1783 (vols. 1-2), 1785 (vol. 3): no. 7.
1774
Imperial Hermitage Museum [probably Ernst von Münnich, ed.]. Catalogue des tableaux qui se trouvent dans les Cabinets du Palais Impérial à Saint- Pétersbourg. Based on the 1773 manuscript catalogue. Saint Petersburg, 1774: no. 7, as by Rembrandt.
1828
Schnitzler, Johann Heinrich. Notice sur les principaux tableaux du Musée Impérial de l'Ermitage à Saint-Petersbourg. Saint Petersburg and Berlin, 1828: 57.
1829
Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 7(1836):8-9, no. 21.
1838
Imperial Hermitage Museum. Livret de la Galerie Impériale de l'Ermitage de Saint Petersbourg. Saint Petersburg, 1838: 128, no. 37.
1859
Blanc, Charles. L’Oeuvre Complet de Rembrandt. 2 vols. Paris, 1859–1861: 2: 259.
1863
Köhne, Baron Bernhard de. Ermitage Impérial, Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. Saint Petersburg, 1863: 169, no. 794.
1864
Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Die Gemäldesammlung in der kaiserlichen Ermitage zu St. Petersburg nebst Bemerkungen über andere dortige Kunstsammlungen. Munich, 1864: 179, no. 794.
1868
Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, sa vie et ses œuvres. The Hague, 1868: 276, 490.
1870
Köhne, Baron Bernhard de. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. 3 vols. 2nd ed. Saint Petersburg, 1870: 2:131, no. 794.
1872
Massaloff, Nicolas. Les Rembrandt de l’Ermitage Impérial de Saint-Pétersbourg. Leipzig, 1872: 4, engraved repro.
1873
Blanc, Charles. L’Oeuvre de Rembrandt. 2 vols. Paris, 1873: 2(1861):259.
1877
Vosmaer, Carel. Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn: sa vie et ses oeuvres. 2nd ed. The Hague, 1877: 551.
1879
Mollett, John W. Rembrandt. Illustrated biographies of the great artists. London, 1879: 93.
1879
Ris, Comte Louis Clement de. "Musée Impérial de l’Ermitage." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 20 (November 1879): 382.
1883
Bode, Wilhelm von. Studien zur Geschichte der holländischen Malerei. Braunschweig, 1883: 508, 599, no. 319.
1885
Dutuit, Eugène. Tableaux et dessins de Rembrandt: catalogue historique et descriptif; supplément à l'Oeuvre complet de Rembrandt. Paris, 1885: 39, 59, 69, no. 14.
1886
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Rembrandtgalerie. Stuttgart, 1886: no. 389.
1893
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: Sa vie, son oeuvre et son temps. Paris, 1893: 566.
1894
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt: His Life, His Work, and His Time. 2 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. New York, 1894: 2:80-81.
1895
Somov, Andrei Ivanovich. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. 2 vols. 3rd ed. Saint Petersburg, 1895: 2:273-274, no. 794.
1897
Bode, Wilhelm von, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. The Complete Work of Rembrandt. 8 vols. Translated by Florence Simmonds. Paris, 1897-1906: 6:3-4, 34, no. 401, repro.
1899
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn and His Work. London, 1899: 81, 181.
1901
Somov, Andrei Ivanovich. Ermitage Impérial: Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. 2 vols. 4th ed. Saint Petersburg, 1901: 2:308, no. 794.
1902
Neumann, Carl. Rembrandt. Berlin, 1902: 357-358.
1904
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart, 1904: 196, repro.
1906
Michel, Émile. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: A Memorial of His Tercentenary. New York, 1906: 93.
1906
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1906: xxix-xxx, repro. 301, 403.
1906
Veth, Jan. Rembrandt's Leven en Kunst. Amsterdam, 1906: 145.
1906
Wurzbach, Alfred von. Niederlandisches Kunstler-Lexikon. 3 vols. Vienna, 1906-1911: 2(1910):409.
1906
Wustmann, Rudolf. "Die Josephgeschichte bei Vondel und Rembrandt." Kunstchronik 18 (23 November 1906): 82–83.
1907
Bell, Malcolm. Rembrandt van Rijn. The great masters in painting and sculpture. London, 1907: 77, 151.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 6(1916):32-33, no. 18.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 6(1915): 16, 17, no. 18.
1907
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. New York, 1907: 304, repro.
1908
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt, des Meisters Gemälde. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. 3rd ed. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1908: xxxi-xxxii, repro. 376, 561.
1909
Rosenberg, Adolf. Rembrandt: Des Meisters Gemälde. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 2. Stuttgart und Leipzig, 1909: xxxi-xxxii, repro. 376, 561.
1909
Wrangell, Baron Nicolas. Les Chefs-d’Oeuvre de la Galerie de Tableaux de l’Ermitage Impérial à St. Pétersbourg. London, 1909: xxix, repro. 121.
1911
Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs & graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays. 3 vols. Paris, 1911: 3:617, 619 .
1913
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt, reproduced in over five hundred illustrations. Classics in Art 2. 2nd ed. New York, 1913: 20, repro. 376.
1918
Wrangell, Baron Nicolas. Die Meisterwerke der Gemälde-Galerie in der Ermitage zu St. Petersburg. Edited by Georg Korczewski. 2nd ed. Munich, 1918: xxix, repro. 121.
1920
Errera, Isabelle. Répertoire des peintures datées. 2 vols. Bruxelles and Paris, 1920-1921: 1(1920):282, dated 1655.
1921
Rosenberg, Adolf. The Work of Rembrandt. Edited by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Classics in Art 2. 3rd ed. New York, 1921: 20, 376, repro.
1922
Neumann, Carl. Rembrandt. 2 vols. Revised ed. Munich, 1922: 2:383-384.
1923
Dyke, John C. van. Rembrandt and His School. New York, 1923: 39.
1923
Meldrum, David S. Rembrandt’s Painting, with an Essay on His Life and Work. New York, 1923: 201, pl. 396.
1923
Weiner, Peter Paul von. Meisterwerke der Gemäldesammlung in der Eremitage zu Petrograd. Revised ed. Munich, 1923: 138, repro.
1923
Weiner, Pierre Paul von. Les chefs-d'oeuvre de la Galerie de tableaux de L'Ermitage à Petrograd. Les Chefs-d'Oeuvres des Galeries Principaux de L'Europe 8. Revised ed. Munich, 1923: repro.
1924
Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs & graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays. 3 vols. Paris, 1911-1924: 3:617, 619.
1933
"American Art Notes [Rembrandt Loan Exhibition]." Connoisseur 91 (April 1933): 275-277, repro.
1933
M. Knoedler & Co. Loan exhibition of paintings by Rembrandt. Exh. cat. M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1933: no. 10.
1933
Rich, Daniel Catton, ed. A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 1933: 18-19, no. 105.
1933
Watson, Forbes. "Gallery Explorations." Parnassus 5 (April 1933): 1-2, repro.
1935
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Gemälde, 630 Abbildungen. Vienna, 1935: no. 523, repro.
1935
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt Schilderijen, 630 Afbeeldingen. Vienna, 1935: no. 523, repro.
1935
Chamot, Mary. "The Rembrandt and Vermeer Exhibitions." Apollo 22 (October 1935): 201, repro.
1935
Rich, Daniel Catton. "Rembrandt Remains." Parnassus 7 (October 1935): 3-5, repro.
1935
Scharf, Alfred. "Dutch and Flemish Painting at the Brussels, Amsterdam and Rotterdam Exhibitions." Connoisseur 96 (November 1935): 250.
1935
Schmidt-Degener, Frederik. Rembrandt Tentoonstelling, ter herdenking van de plechtige opening van het Rijksmuseum. Exh. cat. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 1935: no. 17.
1936
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. New York, 1936: no. 523, repro.
1941
National Gallery of Art. Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1941: 166, no. 79.
1942
Bredius, Abraham. The Paintings of Rembrandt. 2 vols. Translated by John Byam Shaw. Oxford, 1942: no. 523, repro.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Book of illustrations. 2nd ed. Washington, 1942: no. 79, repro. 31, 240.
1943
Benesch, Otto. "The Rembrandt Paintings in the National Gallery of Art." The Art Quarterly 6 (Winter 1943): fig. 8.
1948
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA, 1948: 1:137.
1949
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 85, no. 79, repro.
1954
Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt: A Critical and Chronological Catalogue. 6 vols. London, 1954-1957: 5(1957):277.
1954
Münz, Ludwig. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. The Library of Great Painters. New York, 1954: 114.
1960
Bauch, Kurt. Der frühe Rembrandt und seine Zeit: Studien zur geschichtlichten Bedeutung seines Frühstils. Berlin, 1960: 258 n. 96.
1960
Goldscheider, Ludwig. Rembrandt Paintings, Drawings and Etchings. London, 1960: 177, no. 85, repro.
1960
Roger-Marx, Claude. Rembrandt. Translated by W.J. Strachan and Peter Simmons. New York, 1960: 72-73, 280.
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 98, color repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963: 182, repro.
1964
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt: Life and Work. Revised ed. Greenwich, Connecticut, 1964: 222.
1965
Krieger, Peter. "Die Berliner Rembrandt-Sammlung." Speculum Artis 17 (February 1965): 14.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 109.
1966
Bauch, Kurt. Rembrandt Gemälde. Berlin, 1966: 3, 33, repro.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1: 230, color repro., as by Rembrandt.
1967
Regteren Altena, J.Q. van. "Review of Bauch 1966." Oud Holland 82 (1967): 69-71.
1968
Gerson, Horst. Rembrandt Paintings. Amsterdam, 1968: 114, 116, 362-363, repro., 499.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 96, no. 79, repro.
1969
Bredius, Abraham. Rembrandt: The Complete Edition of the Paintings. Revised by Horst Gerson. 3rd ed. London, 1969: 432, no. 523, repro.
1969
National Gallery of Art. Rembrandt in the National Gallery of Art: Commemorating the tercentenary of the artist's death. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1969: 23, no. 13.
1970
Benesch, Otto. Otto Benesch Collected Writings. 2 vols. Edited by Eva Benesch. London and New York, 1970: 1:83-100, 140-146, fig. 69.
1973
Benesch, Otto. The Drawings of Rembrandt. 6 vols. Edited by Eva Benesch. Enlarged ed. London, 1973: 5:265.
1973
Kauffmann, Hans. "Anmerkungen zu Rembrandts Potipharbildern." In Neue Beiträge zur Rembrandt-Forschung. Edited by Otto von Simson and Jan Kelch. Berlin, 1973: 50-57, fig. 14.
1973
Klessmann, Rudiger. "Zum Röntgen-Befund des Potiphar-Bildes in Berlin." In Neue Beiträge zur Rembrandt-Forschung. Edited by Otto Georg von Simson and Jan Kelch. Berlin, 1973: 44-49, fig. 14.
1974
Potterton, Homan. "'A Commonplace Practitioner in Painting and in Etching': Charles Exshaw." Connoisseur 187 (December 1974): 268-273.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 286, no. 79, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 280, no. 371, color repro.
1976
Hoet, Gerard. Catalogus of naamlyst van schilderyen. 3 vols. in 1. Reprint of 1752 ed. with supplement by Pieter Terwesten, 1770. Soest, 1976: 3:225, no. 44.
1977
Bolten, J., and H. Bolten-Rempt. The Hidden Rembrandt. Translated by Danielle Adkinson. Milan and Chicago, 1977: 196, no. 437, repro.
1980
Blankert, Albert, et al. Gods, Saints, and Heroes: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Detroit Institute of Arts; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Washington, 1980: 148-149, no. 28, repro.
1984
Marck, Jan van der. In quest of excellence: civic pride, patronage, connoisseurship. Exh. cat. Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, 1984: 232, 239, no. 52, repro.
1984
Münz, Ludwig. Rembrandt. Revised ed. London, 1984: 96.
1984
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: Zijn leven, zijn schilderijen. Maarssen, 1984: 272, 274-275, no. 310, repro.
1984
Tümpel, Christian. "Die Rezeption der Jüdischen Altertümer des Flavius Josephus in den holländischen Historiendarstellungen des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts." In Wort und Bild in der Niederländischen Kunst und Literatur des 16. u. 17. Jahrhunderts. Edited by H. Vekeman and J. Müller Hofstede. Erfstadt, 1984: 191, pl. 28.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 280, no. 365, color repro., as by Rembrandt van Ryn.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 330, repro.
1985
Schwartz, Gary. Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings. New York, 1985: 173, 272, 274-275, no. 310, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Washington and Grand Rapids, 1986: 312.
1986
Tümpel, Christian. Rembrandt. Translated by Jacques and Jean Duvernet, Léon Karlson, and Patrick Grilli. Paris, 1986: 419, A.2.
1991
Bal, Mieke. Reading "Rembrandt": beyond the word-image opposition. Cambridge New Art History and Criticism. Cambridge, 1991: 34-39, 43, 46-48, 105-108, 117, 123, 140, 199, 217, 405 n. 24, 451 n.13, repros. 1.2, 1.7, 3.4.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 91, 94, color repro.
1991
Tümpel, Christian. Het Oude Testament in de schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw. Exh. cat. Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam; Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Zwolle, 1991: 200.
1992
National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1992: 131, repro.
1993
Baron, Jean-Marie, and Pascal Bonafoux. Rembrandt, la Bible. Paris, 1993: 52-53, repro.
1993
Weyl, Martin, and Rivka Weiss-Blok, eds. Rembrandt shel Holland [Rembrandt's Holland]. Exh. cat. Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1993: 163, no. 161, repro.
1994
Tümpel, Christian. Im Lichte Rembrandts: das Alte Testament im Goldenen Zeitalter der niederländischen Kunst. Exh. cat. Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster. Zwolle, 1994: 45, 251-252, no. 25, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 314-321, color repro. 315.
1997
Blankert, Albert. Rembrandt: A Genius and his Impact, Exh. cat. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Zwolle, 1997: 141, no. 16e, repro.
1998
Helene E. Roberts, ed. Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 1:130, 153.
1998
Lindgren, Claire. "Calumny." In Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. Edited by Helene E. Roberts. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 1:153.
2000
Il'in, Nikolas, and Natalia Semënova. Prodannye sokrovishcha Rossii [Sold Treasures of Russia]. Moscow, 2000: 118, 119, repro.
2001
Lloyd Williams, Julia. Rembrandt's Women. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Royal Academy of Arts, London. London, 2001: 210, fig. 146.
2003
Kofuku, Akira. Rembrandt and the Rembrandt school: the Bible, mythology and ancient history. Exh. cat. Kokuritsu Seiyo Bijutsukan, Tokyo, 2003: 84-85, no. 14, repro.
2003
Korthals Altes, Everhard. De verovering van de internationale kunstmarkt door de zeventiende-eeuwse schilderkunst: enkele studies over de verspreiding van Hollandse schilderijen in de eerste helft van de achttiende eeuw. Leiden, 2003: 152-153, repro.
2006
Rønberg, Lene Bøgh, and Eva de la Fuente Pedersen. Rembrandt?: The Master and His Workshop. Exh. cat. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, 2006: 118-120, fig. 22.
2006
Wetering, Ernst van de. "Rembrandt's Art: Attempting an Objective Evaluation." In Rembrandt: Quest of a Genius. Edited by Ernst van de Wetering. Exh. cat. Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin. Zwolle, 2006: 239-244, fig. 267.
2009
Odom, Anne, and Wendy R. Salmond, eds. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938. Washington, D.C., 2009: 135 n. 62.
2011
Fiedler, Susanne, and Torsten Knuth. "Vexierbilder einer Biographie: Dr. Heinz Mansfeld (1899-1959)." Mecklenburgische Jahrbücher 126 (2011):307-308.

Conservation Notes

The original fabric support, consisting of a large piece (98.8 x 90.6 cm) with strips (6 cm wide) sewn onto the left and bottom edges, was transferred by E. Sivers in Saint Petersburg in 1854 to fabric with an open-weave, gauzelike interleaf.[1] In 1935 the transfer fabric was removed and the painting relined, with the interleaf retained.[2] Sanding of the back of the original fabric during transfer removed the weave and cusping patterns and may have removed an original ground layer, if a double ground had been employed. Only a single original layer is evident, a tan ground present on the main fabric and edge strips, situated above a white ground that was presumably added during transfer.[3] A black underlayer was found beneath the figures of Joseph and the wife, and the tan ground was employed as a mid-tone in the wife’s hair.

Paint was applied in complex, thin layers of medium-rich paint, creating a heavily textured surface enriched with transparent glazes. The X-radiographs and examination with infrared reflectography at 1.1 – 1.4 microns [4] reveal changes, often visible as pentimenti, above Potiphar’s proper right wrist, in the red cape, which was extended to the right, and in the wife’s proper right sleeve and index finger. Originally, her index finger was not extended. Abrasion in the background reveals remnants of a canopy, visible with infrared reflectography, that initially was between Joseph and Potiphar.

Moderate abrasion is found in the background and in the dress of Potiphar’s wife, along with moderate-sized losses, particularly in Potiphar and the background. Losses exist on all edges and along the seams of the narrow edge strips, where the paint application is original and consistent with the handling in the larger fabric piece. The painting was treated in 1979 to remove discolored varnish and retouching.

 

[1] The information comes from an inscription on a piece of linen, which was attached to the back of the stretcher.

[2] Nothing is known about this treatment other than that the painting was relined in Amsterdam in 1935 by C. M. Jenner (an inscription in Dutch indicating this information is on the inside of the stretcher).

[3] The ground, consisting of iron oxides, Van Dyck brown, and quartz, is apparently the same on both the main fabric and the edge strips. The ground and paint were analyzed by the NGA Scientific Research department using cross-sections and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (see reports dated April 17, 1979; April 18, 1979; August 6, 1979; and November 26, 1979, in NGA Conservation department files). The ground was further analyzed by Karin Groen using cross-sections (see Karin Groen, "Grounds in Rembrandt’s Workshop and in Paintings by his Contemporaries," in Stichting Foundation Rembrandt Research Project,  A Corpus of Rembrandt Paintings, vol. 4, Self-Portraits, ed. Ernst van de Wetering [Dordrecht, 2005], 666–667).

[4] Infrared reflectography was performed with a Santa Barbara Focalplane InSb camera fitted with a J astronomy filter.

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