Collection: Dream of St. Joseph

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Anton Raphael Mengs – c. 1773 – 1774

In the Gospel of Matthew, the apostle relates: “And when the wise men were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matt. 2:13.)

In 1773 Mengs was granted the privilege of hanging his portrait in the Florence gallery of artists’ portraits founded by Giorgio Vasari in the mid-16th century. Allegedly, he chose the spot himself: having been celebrated as “the new Raphael”, he promptly placed his portrait beneath the one of the great Italian painter.

In 1773/74 he returned to Madrid, where he had been appointed court painter to Charles III in 1760. The painting depicting Joseph’s dream was probably created during Mengs’s Florentine period. In Rome Mengs had renewed his study of the works of Michelangelo, and Joseph’s posture is clearly adopted from the master’s Jerome in the Sistine Chapel.

His feast day is March 19.