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Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581-1642)
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Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581-1642)

Joseph falsely accused by Potiphar's wife

Details
Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581-1642)
Joseph falsely accused by Potiphar's wife
signed 'D° ffranken. f....' (lower right)
oil on copper
20 1/8 x 25¾ in. (51.2 x 65.3 cm.)
Provenance
Anon. Sale [The Property of a Nobleman], Christie's, London, 23 April 1982, lot 28.
with Frye & Sohn, Münster, 1984.
Literature
U. Härting, Frans Francken II, Freren, 1989, p. 229, no. 8, illustrated.
Special Notice

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Lot Essay

The subject of the story of Joseph is taken from Genesis; XXXIX: 7-20. Francken here combines three episodes into a single narrative; it is his only known treatment of the subject. Joseph rejects the advances of Potiphar's wife in the left middleground; Joseph, protesting his innocence, is accused by Potiphar's wife holding his coat as evidence against him in the centre foreground. In the right middleground, Joseph is being led away to prison.

The form of the signature is thought to be an abbreviation of 'den ouden Francken'; its use first occurs in a picture of 1617 (in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland), and was adopted after the death of Frans Francken I, to be used more frequently after 1621 when Frans Francken III joined the studio (see Härting, op. cit., p. 32).

In fact Härting dates the present work considerably later. While the composition recalls the Banquet of Esther of circa 1625 in the National Gallery, Prague (ibid., p. 248, no. 84, illustrated), the colour scheme, in which the use of ochre and beige is pronounced, and the swift handling of the brush are characteristic of Francken's later style. The reduced colour range adopted by Francken in the 1630s marked a contemporaneous change in taste evident in still life and landscape painting in the northern Netherlands.

The preliminary sketch for the left half of the composition, probably the left half of a sheet removed from a folio, was offered at the Rudolf sale, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 6 June 1977, lot 54, illustrated (idem, Studien zur Kabinettmalerei des Frans Francken II, 1983, no. ZA 401, fig. 113).
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