This grisaille alludes to a story in Genesis 41:49 about Joseph storing up huge quantities of grain. Joseph was an Israelite sold into slavery by his brothers. As slave to an Egyptian palace official, he was able to interpret a dream of the pharaoh: it meant that there would be seven years of abundant harvests followed by seven years of famine. Joseph advised the pharaoh to store up grain from the good years to use in the lean ones. The pharaoh followed his advice.

Additional information:
Exodus 18:21 tells how Moses’ father-in-law Jethro advised Moses to appoint judges. He was to select men who were able, god-fearing, truthful and honest, ‘hating unjust gain’. Each of these four grisailles depicts one of these qualities. This one illustrates ability. The message is that the men selected to serve in the council of the city of Amsterdam should display the same qualities as the judges appointed by Moses.


  • Title: Wisdom represented by Joseph
  • Date Created: 1737
  • Place Part Of: Netherlands
  • Display: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Description: Oil on Canvas
  • Artist: Jacob de Wit
  • Type: Grisaille
  • Rights: © Stichting Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam., ©Stichting Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam

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