Skip to main content

Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin: M.115A-1961

An image of Plate

Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Colours in this image

Alternative views

Object information

Titles

Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin

Maker(s)

Uncertain Court dit Vigier, Jean I (Maker)
Probably Court dit Vigier, Jean II (Maker)
Possibly Court, Jean de (Maker)

Description

Copper, the front enamelled in polychrome, partly over silver paillons, and gilded with Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin, and the back in grisaille with a radiating design of terms and torches linked by strapwork. Signed "I.C." in black on white strapwork below one of the torches.

Circular copper plate with slightly raised applied edge, narrow sloping rim, shallow curved sides (cavetto), and almost flat centre. On the reverse, there are a series of irregularly placed small holes in the enamel at the junction of the rim and well. The plate has a manganese-black ground. The polychrome design in the well is enamelled over a white layer in translucent bright blue, turquoise, green, yellow, mulberry, and red, with silver foils under the costume and carpet, and in black, opaque white and flesh pink, enhanced by gilding. The reverse is painted in grisaille with flesh pink, and gilding. The well is decorated with Joseph reconciled to his brothers embracing Benjamin. The action takes place in a townscape with on the right, a tower with a buttress; in the middle an arcade with a domed circular building behind it, and on the left a building with a balcony over the doorway. In the foreground there is a blue pavement with tiles decorated in gold with a circular motifs and stylized flower heads. Joseph stands on the right embracing one of his brothers, probably Benjamin, the other ten kneel in the centre. A purple greyhound crouches in the foreground. On the left, Pharaoh sits or stands on a balcony with a red rug hanging from it, and below there are two small standing figures in a doorway and two more approaching them The sky is inscribed in gold "G.XLV." The sides are decorated with gold foliated scrolls with two narrow bold bands below. Above, a band of copper is visible through the enamel. The rim is decorated with two different female masks with draped fabric headdresses, and two different male masks with large ears and earrings, separated by pairs of tritons with tablets on their tails flanking turquoise two-handled vases, with sprays of gold foliage in the background and a very narrow gold band next to the white rim.
The reverse is painted in grisaille and flesh-pink with three terms and three flaming torches linked by scrolling strapwork on a black ground decorated with gold ara\'acbesques and scrolls. On the rim between pairs of gold bands there is a wreath of gold laurel leaves and berries. On the strapwork are the initials '"I.C"

Notes

History note: Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868); his son Baron Gustave de Rothschild, Paris (1829-1911); his grandchildren Sir Philip Sassoon and the Countess of Rocksavage, sold Christie’s, 26 November 1919, Catalogue of Objects of Art Porcelain & Faience, Fine French Tapestry, the property of Sir Philip Sassoon, BT., M.P., C.M.G., and the Countess of Rocksavage of 25 Park Lane, p. 8, part of lot 63; Walter S. Burns, Esq.,, North Mymms Park, Herts; Mrs Walter Burns; sold Christie's, 28 June 1935, Catalogue of highly important enamels, faience and majolica and works of art, the property of Mrs. Walter Burns (from the Collection of the late Walter S. Burns, Esq.) p. 5, lot 11, part IIII; Louis C.G. Clarke, MA, LL.D. (1881-1960), Cambridge.

Legal notes

Louis.C.G. Clarke Bequest, 1960

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 19.8 cm
Height: 1.9 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1960) by Clarke, Louis Colville Gray

Dating

Late 16th or early 17th century
Henry III of France
Henry IV of France
Circa 1564 CE - Circa 1610 CE

Note

The Biblical story of Joseph told in Genesis, was a common theme for the decoration of domestic objects in France in the second half of the 16th century. Limoges enamellers decorated caskets, ewers, dishes, and small plates with Joseph scenes. Although no complete sets are known, this plate was probably one of a set of twelve each decorated with a different event in the story, beginning when Joseph was already the slave of Potifar in Egypt, and extending from his rejection of the enticements of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39.7) to his reconciliation with his brothers (Genesis 45.14-16). Ten of the scenes were closely based on Bernard Salomon's woodcut illustrations to Claude Paradin’s 'Quadrins historiques de la Bible', first published by Jean de Tournes in Lyon in 1553. An augmented edition appeared in 1555, reprinted in 1558 and 1560, and another augmented edition in 1583. Each page had the biblical reference at the top, a woodcut, and an explanatory verse below. Another work of the same type, Guillaume Guéroult’s 'Figures de la Bible illustrées de huictains francoys . . . (Guillaume Roville), Lyons, 1564 (2nd edn, 1565), with illustrations by Pierre Eskrich was used for the 7th and 10th plates in the series, and the 12th has aspects from the woodcuts in both publications. These books can be viewed online in the Gallica website of the Bibliothèque nationale

The initials ‘I•C’ occur on a great many enamels made during the second half of the 16th and early 17th century. It therefore seems likely to have been a workshop mark used succesively by members of the Court family. These were Jehan or Jean Court dit Vigier I (d. 1592) and his son, Jean Court dit Vigier II (b. c.1575-d. between 1631-5); another Jehan de Court who witnessed the latter's wedding in 1598, and was therefore probably a relative, and of another enameller, Jehan Court dit Vigier le jeune who married in 1613, and died between 1627-31. (See Documentation, Beyssi-Cassan, 2006)

This plate is decorated with the last scene in the series which occurs in Genesis 45. Joseph is shown with his brothers, rejoycing and weeping over them, and is embraced one, probably Benjamin, as mentioned in the Bible story. The scene was copied from the woodcut titled ‘GENESE XLV’.by Bernard Salomon in Claude Paradin’s, Quadrins Historique de la Bible, Lyon, 1553, or a later edition. However, the tower on the right, with its arched buttress, was taken from Pierre Eskrich's woodcut in Guillaume Guéroult’s 'Figures de la Bible illustrées de huictains francoys . . . (Guillaume Roville), Lyons, 1564 or 1565. In Quadrins historiques ... , the previous scene shows Joseph enthroned revealing his identity to the brothers, but the scene on the plate has usually been described as if it were that. At least two more and possibly further plates decorated with this subject are known: a 20 cm plate also initialled I.C. on the back, was in the Rev. A.H.S. Barwell’s bequest to the British Museum (1913,1220.59), and another, 19.8 cm in diameter bequeathed by William G. Mather to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (1951.326), possibly the plate decorated with this subject formerly in the Marlborough, Spitzer, and J.E. Taylor Collections (See Documentation, Demartial 1912)

School or Style

Renaissance Mannerism

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( translucent blue, turquoise, green, yellow, mulberry, red, flesh pink, opaque white and black) gilding Decorating

Materials used in production

Copper

Techniques used in production

Raising (metal forming process) : Copper with series of irregularly placed small holes in the enamel at the junction of the rim and well. The plate has a dark mulberry-brown (manganese) ground appearing black. The polychrome design in the well is enamelled over a white layer in translucent bright blue, turquoise, green, yellow, mulberrym and red, with silver foils under the costume and carpet, and in black, opaque white and flesh pink, enhanced by gilding. The reverse is painted in grisaille with flesh pink, and gilding

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: .G.XLV.
  • Location: On front in sky
  • Method of creation: Painted in gold
  • Type: Inscription
  • Text: .I .C.
  • Location: On back on white strapwork below one of the torches
  • Method of creation: Painted in black
  • Type: Initials

Inscription present: rectangular with cut corners, printed in black with a line border

  • Text: UNION/ CENTRALE with between the words in black ink 124/2787
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Printed in black and hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: circular paper label

  • Text: 11/4
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Printed in blue and hand-written in pencil
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.115A-1961
Primary reference Number: 139826
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 27 January 2021 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin" Web page available at: https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/139826 Accessed: 2022-05-29 04:08:40

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url=https://collection.beta.fitz.ms/id/object/139826 |title=Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-05-29 04:08:40|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

                <div class="text-center my-3">
                    <figure class="figure">
                        <img src="https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/imagestore/aa/aa37/M_115A_1961_1_200801_mfj22_dc2.jpg"
                        alt="Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin"
                        class="img-fluid" />
                        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Joseph reconciled to his brothers embraces Benjamin</figcaption>
                    </figure>
                </div>
            

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

More objects and works of art you might like

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...