Joseph’s Coat

Joseph and his Clothing

Diego Velázquez, Joseph’s Bloody Coat Brought to Jacob, 1630. Oil on canvas,  Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain.

Diego Velázquez (1599–1660) was a leading artist of the Spanish golden age. Chiefly a portrait painter, here we see Velázquez use his narrative talents. Jacob (far right) favored his son Joseph over his many other sons and had given him a treasured coat. The brothers saw the gift as an indication that Joseph would become the family patriarch, and they became jealous. Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph into slavery, then dipped his coat in goat’s blood and gave it to their father, telling him that Joseph had been ripped apart by wild animals. The grief in Jacob’s expression is palpable, and he throws up his arms in horror. The charming, barking dog seems to be aware of the deceit, as he tries to call attention to the guilty brothers.