The New Testament of the Bible is very silent on the subject of Joseph, other than that he was a carpenter from Nazareth and descended from the Old Testament King David. According to Matthew the Evangelist, an angel commanded Joseph to take Mary, who was with child, as his wife. According to Luke they were already betrothed when Mary conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because the child was not his, Joseph was Jesus’ foster-father. He was of little interest to theologians. Consequently, in early images of the Nativity, Joseph is generally depicted in a corner, and in scenes of the Adoration of the Shepherds and of the Kings as standing off to the side. In the late Middle Ages, believers were eager to know more about Christ’s life and by extension that of Joseph as well. In art he became a kind of domestic figure and is shown cooking porridge, drying diapers or cutting up his socks to make swaddling clothes for the infant Christ.



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