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The Dream of Saint Joseph

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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According to the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appears to the Virgin Mary’s husband, Joseph, in a dream. Champaigne shows the angel gesturing towards both heaven and the Virgin Mary, confirming that Christ has been conceived through the Holy Ghost. Kneeling in front of an open Bible, Mary glances towards the angel, her arms crossed over her chest. Joseph was the patron saint of workers, particularly carpenters and joiners. He is surrounded by craftsman’s tools and portrayed as a youthful rather than elderly man, as was more common. The ornately carved chair and deeply padded cushion on which he rests his head are at odds with the simplicity of his yellow cloak and sandals. His appearance signifies his humility, which the viewer would have been encouraged to follow.

The National Gallery, London



The Dream of Saint Joseph




Oil on canvas


H 209.5 x W 155.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1957

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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