Joseph waiting on his fellow prisoners, in a vaulted interior Pen and brown ink and grey-brown wash


© The Trustees of the British Museum

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Department: Prints & Drawings

Registration number: Oo,9.101

Bibliographic reference
Royalton-Kisch 2010 102 (anonymous Rembrandt School)
Hind 1915-31 119

Dutch Roy XVIIc

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Object types
drawing (scope note | all objects)

paper (all objects)
drawn (scope note | all objects)
Production person
Circle/School of Rembrandt (anonymous) (biographical details | all objects)
1640-1650 (circa)
Schools /Styles
Dutch (scope note | all objects)

Joseph waiting on his fellow prisoners; in a vaulted interior. c.1640-50
Pen and brown ink with brown wash; framing lines in pen and brown ink.

Verso: see Inscriptions.

Watermark: foolscap with five-pointed collar; see Hinterding E.b.b and F.c.a (also on cat.no.105, 1895,0915.1254).

Inscription Content: Inscribed verso, in black chalk; 'Rembrant/ fl 1955' and in graphite: '36 [in a circle]'.

Height: 95 millimetres
Width: 118 millimetres (chain lines horizontal, 26mm apart)


Curator's comments
Entry from Martin Royalton-Kisch, ‘Catalogue of drawings by Rembrandt and his school’, 2010, anonymous Rembrandt School, cat. no.102.
For the subject, see Willem Drost, cat. no.3 (1855,1013.39) and the anonymous drawing, cat. no.114 (Gg,2.249).
On the basis of style, the present sheet is hard to place. The squat figures, reminiscent of those by Adam Elsheimer and Hendrick Goudt,[1] resemble those of Rembrandt's Leiden period (cf. Rembrandt cat. no.2 [1961,0708.2]), and the 'Three Scribes below a Curtain' in the Rijksmuseum, Benesch 9). Yet the drawing has rightly been compared with the study of 'Jews in the Temple' in the Amsterdam Historisch Museum (Fodor Collection, HdG 1226).[2] Both drawings resemble a group of works that has recently been tentatively assigned to Carel Fabritius.[3] They share characteristics of line, both in their slightly disorderly outlines and hatching, as well as in the bold use of wash.
These characteristics reflect Rembrandt's style of the 1640s (for example, compare the figure seen from behind in the present work with those in the 'Star of the Kings by Rembrandt' and the 'Dismissal of Hagar' attributed to him (cat. nos.38 and 75 [1910,0212.189 and 1860,0616.121]), the most likely period for the present work. The attribution of the group of drawings to which it belongs to Fabritius is at present insufficiently documented to allow for its inclusion,[4] nor does the quality of the drawing argue in favour of an attribution to such an accomplished master. Yet it could be the work of another pupil of Rembrandt who was an approximate contemporary of Fabritius, training in Rembrandt's workshop in the 1640s.[5]

[1] As first suggested by George S. Abrams (23 Jan. 1985).
[2] See Amsterdam, 1981, no.20, repr. The comparison first made by Hind in London, 1915, no.119.
[3] See Amsterdam, 1985, nos.61-66 (especially no.62 for comparison with the present sheet).
[4] It is worth recording that a painting by Carel Fabritius of 'Joseph interpreting the Dreams of his fellow Prisoners' was recorded in a sale in The Hague, Beucelaar, 19 April 1752, no.205, with dimensions approximating to the present sheet in proportion. But Brown, 1981, p.158, who transcribes the description in the catalogue, believes it likely that the work referred to was by Barent rather than Carel Fabritius. On Fabritius's drawings see, Schatborn, 2006[I].
[5] The Amsterdam drawing of the 'Adoration of the Shepherds', one of the group attributed with reserve by Schatborn to Carel Fabritius (Amsterdam, 1985, no.62, repr.) has affinities with a later work, of 1667, by his brother Barent Fabritius (repr. Sumowski, 'Gemälde', II, 1983, p.951, no.573). Both however depend on Rembrandt's own treatment of the subject in his painting of 1646 in the National Gallery (Bredius 574).

Bürger, 1858, p.398 (Rembrandt); Dutuit, II, 1885, p.85 (Rembrandt); Bell, c.1905, p.14, repr. pl.XXX (Rembrandt); London, 1915, no.119, repr. pl.XIII (school work, comparable to Fodor drawing, HdG 1226); van Guldener, 1947, pp.43 and 46 (Rembrandt school); Amsterdam, 1981, p.88, under no.20, n.8 (as London, 1915).

old testament (all objects)

Associated names
Representation of Joseph (biographical details | all objects)

Acquisition date

Acquisition name
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight (biographical details | all objects)

Exhibition History
No exhibitions recorded.

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