Pontormo was a major Florentine painter of the 16th century, and the main exponent of an early, expressive form of Mannerism. His name was Jacopo Carucci, but he is called after his birthplace, a village in Tuscany.
The four paintings in the Collection telling the story of Joseph were carried out as part of a scheme of bedroom decoration. Their high, brilliant colour owes a great deal to Michelangelo's newly unveiled (1512) Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes. Andrea del Sarto was an important influence on Pontormo's earliest work, and Michelangelo afterwards. He was also influenced by Northern art, especially the prints of Dürer and Lucas van Leyden.
In addition to his works on panel, Pontormo is also celebrated for his frescoes, such as the Passion series of the Charterhouse of Galluzzo and his deeply expressive drawings, including those for the great decoration of the choir in San Lorenzo (1546-56), destroyed in 1742.
A surviving diary, and the recollections of contemporaries, indicate that he was solitary and neurotic. He was, however, on excellent terms with his pupil Bronzino, whose portrait, as a boy, is included in 'Joseph with Jacob in Egypt'.