Duncan Grant 1885-1978
Joseph being disrobed by the Servants of Potiphar's Wife
Oil on panel 25 1/2 x 35 inches (64.7 x 90 cm)
Signed on the reverse
Grant has taken as his subject the incident from the story in Genesis in which the wife of Pharaoh’s Captain, Potiphar, seeks to seduce the young Joseph. When he rebuffs her and flees she gives false testimony against him which puts him in prison. But ultimately it brings him to Pharaoh’s attention and thus leads both to his own success and the deliverance of Egypt.
Grant has created an erotically charged visualisation of beginning of this incident. Like an odalisque, Potiphar’s wife surveys languidly her servants taking off Joseph’s coat of many colours. For the figure of Joseph, Grant has added a level of self-personification. The head and raised arm are derived from his self-portrait Study for Composition (Man in a Turban) made around 1910 (below).