Scala/Art Resource

“Once Joseph had a dream…” (Genesis 37:5). Surrounded by his brothers, the young Joseph wears a yellow tunic, a sign of his father’s favoritism. Joseph relates his dreams to his 11 brothers, who ignore their flocks to listen to the audacious account. Although in Genesis each dream is told separately, here both dreams are pictured in circles in the sky. To the right is the first dream: “There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf” (Genesis 37:7). In the left circle is Joseph’s second dream, in which the sun, moon and 11 stars bow down to him.

This painting and the next image are two in a series of 48 Old Testament and four New Testament scenes, known as the “Raphael Bible,” that appear on the ceiling of a loggia (arcade) in the Vatican. In her preface to The Raphael Bible (Viking, 1970), novelist Rumer Godden states that although none of the paintings are by Raphael and “it even seems doubtful that he made designs for more than one or two, if any of them, yet the whole was Raphael-inspired in Raphael’s unique way…and the loggia owes its splendour to him.”