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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Sheet: 26.2 x 15.1 cm (10 5/16 x 5 15/16 in.); Image: 19.5 x 9.5 cm (7 11/16 x 3 3/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2005.145.11.b
Joseph is in shock as his staff bursts into bloom, indicating he will wed Mary.
This painting illustrates a story that introduces Joseph into the narrative. When Mary came of age to wed, the high priests ordered every eligible man to bring a rod to the temple. When they prayed for a sign from God to determine which suitor was worthy, the rod belonging to Joseph burst into bloom. The painter has depicted Joseph’s hat on the ground as if it fell off his head in a sudden movement of surprise. The suitors in this scene are dressed as contemporary Portuguese men, but have followed the Muslim practice of removing their shoes while in the temple.
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