BREENBERGH, Bartholomeus
(b. 1598/1600, Deventer, d. 1657, Amsterdam)

Joseph Selling Wheat to the People

Oil on canvas, 110,5 x 90 cm
Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Breenbergh returned to Amsterdam from Italy by 1633. He crafted here meticulous Italianate settings for biblical themes such as this picture. He marked the city as Egyptian by his inclusion of an obelisk, but the church at upper right, in front of which Joseph authorizes the sale, faithfully copies a Roman church. As in many seventeenth-century paintings, a vaguely classical town basking in rosy light sufficed to evoke a Mediterranean, biblical past.

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