Giovanni della Casa, who is in all likelihood the subject of this portrait, belonged to a wealthy Tuscan family and rose to prominence in the service of the church. As poet, humanist, and political theorist, he circulated at the highest levels of Italian intellectual life. Della Casa also wrote a book on manners, and in this portrait of the early 1540s displays the sober self-possession espoused in that work. When Pontormo painted this image, della Casa was in his early thirties and acting in Florence as Apostolic Commissioner of taxes. Pontormo shows the monsignor in a dim interior, and although the architectural details are few, they suggest that the building is Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence.
Pontormo's mannerist style was a brilliantly expressive synthesis of fantasy and acute observation of nature. Here the balance is tilted in favor of visible reality, but a reality intensified by plausible exaggerations. For example, the monsignor's small head is made to look even smaller by the huge conical bulk of his caped torso looming so close to the picture plane and brushing the sides of the frame.
Marchese Bargagli [family of the sitter], Florence. (Trotti et Cie., Paris, by 1909, as by Sebastiano del Piombo); on joint account 1912-1922 with (M. Knoedler & Co., London, New York, and Paris); (Trotti et Cie., Paris), from 1922. (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Florence and Rome). (D'Atri, Paris and Rome). (Pinakos, Inc., New York) on joint account with (M. Knoedler & Co., London, New York and Paris); sold 6 February 1952 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1961 to NGA.
- Tableaux anciens de l'école italienne, Galerie Trotti, Paris, 1909, no. 12.
- Mostra del Pontormo e del Primo Manierismo Fiorentino, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 1956, no. 76, pl. LXI (no. 84, pl. LXXVII in second edition of the catalogue).
- Magnificenza! The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence (in Italy, L'ombra del genio: Michelangelo e l'arte Firenze, 1537-1631), Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Art Inst. of Chicago; Detroit Inst. of Arts, 2002-2003, no. 32.
- Pontormo, Bronzino, and the Medici: The Transformation of the Renaissance Portrait in Florence, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004-2005, no. 45, repro., as Giovanni della Casa.
- Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino. Diverging Paths of Mannerism, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2014, no. IV.1.5, repro.
- Dussler, Luitpold. Sebastiano del Piombo. Basel, 1942, no. 77, as by Sebastiano del Piombo.
- Suida, William E. "Titian's Portraits, Originals and Reconstructions." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (March 1946): 144, repro. 149.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Colllection Acquired by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation 1951-56. Introduction by John Walker, text by William E. Suida and Fern Rusk Shapley. National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1956: 142, no. 55, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 109, repro.
- Sinibaldi, Giulia. "Un disegno del Pontormo." Paragone XIV, no. 165 (Sept 1963):41-42, repro.
- Forster, Kurt. W. "Probleme um Pontormos Porträtmalerei (I)," Pantheon XXII, no. VI (Nov/Dec 1964):380+
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 104
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 1:136, color repro.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 92, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 11-12, fig. 17.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 272, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1979: I:377-379, II:pl. 273
- Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Bronzino's Young Woman with Her Little Boy." Studies in the History of Art 12 (1982): 70-71, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 187, no. 211, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 317, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 99, repro.
- Arasse, Daniel and Andreas Tönnesmann. La Renaissance maniériste, 1997, p. 460, no. 294, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 99, no. 75, color repro.