(b. 1862, Wien, d. 1917, Budapest)

Joseph Sold into Slavery by his Brothers

Oil on canvas, 192 x 229 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

According to the Bible, the older brothers who were jealous of their father's love sell Joseph to the Ishmailites (Book IV of the Old Testament). The picture shows the most tragic scene of the betrayal. Joseph, stripped to the waist, is seized and led to the merchants in white burnous who have just arrived. Ferenczy's picture, which is the largest of all in size, opens prospects: in the background of the scene there is a huge plain area with figures lining up in the foreground. It is not necessary to know the biblical story to understand what is going on. The foreground is divided according to colours and forms (dark skinned people and figures wearing white mantles) which find their counterpoints in peaceful blue and brown patches of the background. The background and the sunset making colours brighter unite the composition with Joseph and a man in a luxurious mantle in the middle who rises to the same level of importance as Joseph is because of the golden mantle complementing the blue of the sky and the river.

The picture was painted from beginning to end in the open air, as it is known from Valér's letter to his father, the size of the picture must have presented a lot of technical problems. The model who posed for Joseph was Valér.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.