Sunday, June 27, 2010

Potiphar’s Wife

Sold as a slave by his brothers Joseph became an overseer in the household of the rich Egypt officer Potiphar. But there he was pursued by the woman of his master who seemed to be bored with her life in luxury. When Joseph resisted several of her attempts to seduce him she became furious and accused him of attempting to rape her. Potiphar casts Joseph into prison where he stayed until he had to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh.

This saucy little story was rather successful as an art subject. There was the chaste young man (presumably the artist himself) resisting heroically seduction and menace, always true to his real master (presumably the artist’s male sponsor).

This "Joseph and Potiphar's Wife" (1660s) is by the Spanisch painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682). It’s very typical for the whole subject. There is the valiant resisting young Joseph and the horny half naked housewife.

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