This complex composition provides significant visual evidence for evaluating more fully the range of execution in Bronzino's large-scale drawings. It contains numerous spirited pentimenti and displays nuances of light and atmosphere throughout as well as suggestive, vigorous, and free contours. The monumental foreground figures are worked to a luminous, sculptural finish, with deeply graded shadows in dark brown washes and intense cream-colored gouache highlights, while the more smoky forms in the middle ground and background, done with pale washes or plain black chalk, gradually dissolve into the color of the paper. This squared modello was preparatory for the tapestry Pharaoh Receiving Jacob into Egypt, the eighteenth scene in the Story of Joseph cycle, which conflates two episodes: Joseph bringing his five brothers to the pharaoh, who grants them permission to live in Goshen (Genesis 47:1–6), and Jacob being presented to the pharaoh (Genesis 47:7–10). The tapestry was delivered to the Guardaroba Medicea on August 21, 1553, so the modello can be dated about 1551–53.
Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503–1572)
Pharaoh Receiving Jacob into Egypt
, ca. 1551–53
Brush and brown wash, highlighted with cream-colored gouache over black chalk, squared in black chalk; 24 9/16 x 19 13/16 in. (62.4 x 50.4 cm)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin