Joseph sold to Potiphar

This picture formed part of the decoration of the bedroom of Pierfrancesco Borgherini (in the Borgherini palazzo in Florence), and was commissioned to celebrate his marriage in 1515. The decorations also included Pontormo's 'Pharaoh with his Butler and Baker', 'Joseph's Brothers beg for Help' and 'Joseph with Jacob in Egypt', as well as Bacchiacca's 'Joseph receives his Brothers' and 'Joseph Pardons his Brothers'.

The story is taken from the Old Testament (Genesis 39: 1). This scene shows Joseph (the central boy in yellow) standing before his new master Potiphar, to whom he has just been sold by the Ishmaelites, seen grappling for their payment on the left.

Joseph's life was thought to mirror that of Christ; the New Testament parallel of this incident was Christ's betrayal.

Directly above Potiphar is a statue of Charity, perhaps underlining the moral message of the story.

Key facts

Artist dates
1494 - 1556/7
Full title
Joseph sold to Potiphar
Date made
about 1515
Medium and support
Oil on wood
61 x 51.6 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought with the aid of the Art Fund (Eugene Cremetti Fund), 1979
Inventory number
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: Scenes from the Story of Joseph

probably 1518
Pontormo: 'Joseph with Jacob in Egypt'
probably 1515
Bacchiacca: 'Joseph receives his Brothers'
probably 1515
Bacchiacca: 'Joseph pardons his Brothers'