Joseph, the favourite son of Jacob, was sold by his jealous brothers to passing Midianite merchants. They smeared his coat of many colours with kid’s blood and returned it to Jacob as evidence of Joseph’s death (Genesis XXXVII, 26-33; cf. Murillo P46). Here Judah, the leader of the brothers, is shown as the deceiver; whereas in 'Judah and Tamar' it is he who is deceived. Nevertheless, the paintings are not pendants (though Lord Hertford probably had 'Judah and Tamar' framed as an arched composition to match 'Joseph’s Coat'). They demonstrate Vernet’s conviction that biblical subjects could be based on contemporary Arab scenes because Arab life had remained unchanged for thousands of years.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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