European Art Online
Flemish or Italian School, 17th Century
News of the Death of Joseph alternatively titled Joseph's Blood-stained Coat is Brought and Shown to Jacob
Unsigned, with an unidentified stamp on the heel and wrist of the central figure's left hand, inscribed "Rubens" in a later hand on the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 43 x 36 in. (109.2 x 91.0 cm),framed.
Condition: Trimmed of tacking edges and lined, horizontal crack to the paint surface across the center measuring 20 in. with losses and lifting along the edges, retouch, repairs, craquelure overall.
Provenance: Descended within the family of James M. Cowan (1858-1930) of Aurora, Illinois.
N.B. This dramatic scene comes from the Old Testament, Book of Genesis (37-50),when Joseph's jealous brothers convince their father Jacob that his favorite son has been slain by a wild beast, rather than confessing that they have sold Joseph into slavery.
The artist behind this work remains a mystery. It has earlier been ascribed to Rubens, but current scholarship does not bear this out. While the artist could have been Flemish, maybe a contemporary of Rubens such as Artus Wolffaerts, recent suggestions point to a painter working in late 17th-century Italy or even France, influenced by Caravaggio, perhaps a follower of Ribera or Mattia Preti.
The painting comes from the personal collection of James M. Cowan by descent in his family. A businessman, art collector, and native Tennessean, Cowan made a fortune in insurance, but his passion was collecting fine art. In 1927-29 he gave a portion of his collection to The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. His initial anonymous gift was soon supplemented with pieces he acquired specifically with the museum in mind. These works, all American oils on canvas dating from 1765 to1923, are housed permanently in The Parthenon as The Cowan Collection. Cowan also kept a portion of his collection to be passed on to his heirs, including important works by European artists.
Framed dimensions are 50 5/8 x 43 1/8 x 2 1/2 inches.
Items may have wear and tear, imperfections, or the effects of aging. Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.