Joseph was the favourite son of his father Jacob and much envied by his elder brothers. When he appeared to his brothers wearing a new coat of many colours given to him by his father, they resolved to kill him. His brother Reuben persuaded the others to mitigate the crime by abandoning the boy in an empty well (Genesis, XXXVII, 12–24). Painted c.1670, the painting provides an example of violent emotion unusual in Murillo’s work. Its subject sets it apart from the other Murillos in The Wallace Collection. At first, the 4th Marquess of Hertford was unsure whether to purchase it, writing to his agent Samuel Mawson ‘I only like pleasing pictures & the subject of the one in question may not be quite to my taste’. However, Mawson’s enthusiasm seems to have won him over as it was bought for 1,680 guineas in 1854.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection