Skip to main content
Joseph with Jacob in Egypt
Pontormo
/

This was the latest and most advanced of a series of panels that were made to decorate the bedchamber of the Florentine banker Pierfrancesco Borgherini on the occasion of his marriage in 1515. The paintings, commissioned by Pierfrancesco’s father, tell the Old Testament story of Joseph. Five other panels from the series are in the National Gallery’s collection.

In this picture (which may not have been part of the original commission) the concluding episodes of the story of Joseph and Jacob are ingeniously condensed. There are four separate moments combined here: Joseph introducing his father Jacob to the Pharaoh of Egypt; Joseph on a chariot, hearing a petition from the victims of famine; Joseph with his sons climbing the staircase to visit the dying Jacob; and Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons.

This type of picture, in which several parts of a story are shown simultaneously, is known as a continuous narrative and was particularly popular for furniture decoration.

Key facts
Artist Pontormo
Artist dates 1494 - 1556/7
Full title Joseph with Jacob in Egypt
Series Scenes from the Story of Joseph
Date made probably 1518
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 96.5 x 109.5 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1882
Inventory number NG1131
Location in Gallery Room 7
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo

Scenes from the Story of Joseph

/

These six pictures by Pontormo and Bacchiacca were part of a larger series of panel paintings commissioned to celebrate the marriage of Pierfrancesco Borgherini to Margherita Accaiuoli in 1515. The series decorated the couple’s bedroom in the Borgherini palace in Florence. Francesco Granacci and Andrea del Sarto also contributed to the decorative scheme, which would have been one of the most sumptuous of the time. The paintings, telling the story of Joseph from the Old Testament (Genesis 39), would have been set into the wall panelling and furniture.

Pontormo’s interest in the emerging new style known as Mannerism – a reaction against the harmony, proportion and naturalism of High Renaissance art – is evident in his bright colours, disconcertingly unnatural approach to space, elongated figures and spiralling compositions. Bacchiacca’s scenes are expressive and dramatic but stylistically more conventional.

;