BRAY, Salomon de
(b. 1597, Amsterdam, d. 1664, Haarlem)

Joseph Receives His Father and Brothers in Egypt

Oil on canvas, 112 x 88 cm
Private collection

This painting has a pendant, Jacob punishing Joseph (private collection)made by Nicolaes de Helt Stockade in the same year, 1655. It is unclear how De Bray and De Helt Stockade came to make pendants; the partnership may have ben brought about by an Amsterdam client.

De Brays picture illustrates one of the last episodes of the Old Testament story of Joseph, in which it transpires that his father's interpretation of the dream was correct. The elderly Jacob, who reached the age of 130, took his family to Egypt to see his son Joseph, viceroy to the pharaoh, for the last time in his life. He had sent another son, Judah, to announce the family's arrival. Joseph prepared his chariot at once and set off to meet Jacob in Goshen. On seeing his father he embraced him and wept.

In the painting, Jacob's entire family bows down before Joseph, who stands on the right guarded by soldiers with halberds. The chariot in which he rode to meet his father - depicted here as a seventeenth-century carriage - is visible in the background. On the left we see Jacob, his first wife Leah (Rachel, Joseph's mother was no longer alive) and Joseph's brothers. The small dog with the dog in the left foreground could be Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin.

The composition of the painting corresponds closely to two drawings, both of which, like the painting, date from 1655.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 5 minutes):
Étienne Nicolas Méhul: Joseph, aria