Joseph Lowered into the Well by his Brothers

Joseph Lowered into the Well by his Brothers

Maiolica plate, Italy, probably Urbino or the Urbino district

  • Year created: 1550-75
  • Creator: unknown
  • Country of Origin: Italy, probably Urbino or the Urbino district
  • Dimensions: Diam: 23.5cm
  • Collection: Ceramics
  • Gallery: Armouries Corridor

In the sixteenth century Urbino, in the Marche region of central Italy, was an important production centre for elaborately decorated tin-glazed earthenware, known as maiolica. This plate shows a biblical subject, Joseph Lowered into the Well by his Brothers, from the Old Testament book of ‘Genesis’ (37: 23-4). An inscription in Latin on the back of the plate means, ‘His brothers cast Joseph down and afterwards sold him’. This scene is after a woodcut by Sebald Beham (1500–1550) in the ‘Biblisch Historien’, which was first published in Frankfurt in 1533. The unidentified coat of arms occurs on other pieces of maiolica, so the plate is probably from a service.

Read more about this object on our blog stories or see the full catalogue entry on our Search the Collection pages.

Plate with illustration of Joseph being lowered into well by his brother
C141, front: Maiolica Plate, 'Joseph Lowered into the Well by his Brothers'
Back of ceramic plate on stand
C141, back: Maiolica Plate, 'Joseph Lowered into the Well by his Brothers'