In the painting by Alexander Ivanov “Joseph Interpreting the Dreams of the Butler and Baker, imprisoned with him in the dungeon”, the theme of a person’s collision with Destiny is embodied.
The plot of the work is taken from the Bible (Genesis). Joseph the Beautiful, sold by his brothers into slavery, ended up in an Egyptian dungeon, where Pharaoh’s butler and baker were imprisoned with him. Both former courtiers had mysterious dreams, which they told Joseph. The young man predicted the imminent release of the cupbearer and the execution of the baker. In confirmation of his prophecy, Joseph points with his hand to the wall of the dungeon, where an Egyptian relief is carved – the execution of four people. Everything was fulfilled according to Joseph’s words.
It is interesting that both the cupbearer and the baker were painted from the same sitter, but in their appearance the artist depicted opposite feelings. The plot was given to Ivanov by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts – in September 1827, the painting was presented to the council of the Academy of Arts. In 1827 Ivanov received a gold medal of the first dignity from the Academy of Arts from the funds of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts for this painting and for the cardboard “Laocoon with Children”, and in 1828 – the title of artist. The painting was exhibited at an academic exhibition in 1827.