From July 1816 to the summer of 1817, five young German artists of the so-called ‘Lukasbund’ [Brotherhood of St Luke] – Wilhelm Schadow, Philipp Veit, Franz Catel, Friedrich Overbeck, and Peter Cornelius – painted a room in the Palazzo Zuccari in Rome, the official quarters of the Prussian Consul General, Jakob Salomon Bartholdy. The paintings are now housed in the Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin). The attempt to invest the traditional art of the monumental fresco with a new public prestige thus began in a small, semi-private context; Christian subjects were particularly favoured for this purpose.
This sketch depicts the Old Testament passage from the Book of Moses (1:41) where the young Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dream of the seven fat and the seven lean years. The composition differs from the mural, which, following a handful of alterations, was later realized by Philipp Veit.