The Anxiety of Saint Joseph (L'anxiété de Saint Joseph)
Betrothed but still unmarried, Mary and Joseph do not yet live together, making the news of her unexpected pregnancy a cause of deep concern for Joseph. Ordinarily industrious, as the curled wood shavings around his feet attest, the carpenter hunches over his bench, lost in thought and unable to work. In the hope of catching a glimpse of Mary, he gazes out at the street as women pass carrying jars filled with the day’s water.
Although traditional representations of Joseph show a man of advanced age, Tissot painted him as younger and more robust, arguing in his accompanying commentary that “Rabbinical doctrine” would have regarded the union of an old man and a young girl as a “profanation.” He further asserted that the rigorous demands placed on the Holy Family required a man of vigor.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 6 5/16 x 7 13/16 in. (16 x 19.8 cm)
Sheet: 6 5/16 x 7 13/16 in. (16 x 19.8 cm)
Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed right edge, approximately 4 inches from bottom: "J.J. Tissot"
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Anxiety of Saint Joseph (L'anxiété de Saint Joseph), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 5/16 x 7 13/16 in. (16 x 19.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.20 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.20_PS2.jpg)
overall, 00.159.20_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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