Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp 1612 – 1652

Joseph, the Butler and the Baker

oil on panel (73 × 62 cm) — ca. 1630 - 1652 Museum Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp biography

This work is linked to Genesis 40:19

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After being falsely accused, Joseph was put in prison. There he met two other prisoners, both servants to Pharaoh: his butler and his baker.

One night the two had dreams which Joseph explained to them. The butler dreamed of a vine with ripe grapes, which he pressed into a cup and handed to Pharaoh. Joseph said he would soon be reinstated as Pharaoh's butler.

The baker dreamed that he carried three baskets with bread for Pharaoh on his head, and that birds ate all the bread. Joseph said the dream meant he would be beheaded and put on a tree for the birds to eat.

Both interpretations came true. Later, when Pharaoh also had dreams that he wanted explained, the butler remembered a man with a remarkable talent.

In this painting by Cuyp the butler and baker wear chains. By divine intervention Joseph had certain privileges, allowing him to move freely inside the prison walls.

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