According to the biographer Giorgio Vasari, Domenico Beccafumi took the name of a rich Sienese citizen who apprenticed him to a local painter, but his father was really a peasant who worked for the beneficent Beccafumi. The artist spent several years in Rome, where he saw Raphael's and Michelangelo's works, and a trip to Florence exposed him to Leonardo da Vinci's chiaroscuro. By 1514 Beccafumi was developing characteristics usually associated with the Mannerism of the next decade, creating both emotional and compositional tension and instability instead of the balance and harmony more typical of Renaissance art. In the later 1520s he became official painter to the Sienese republic and decorated many of Siena's churches with paintings and fresco. Beccafumi also designed mosaics and worked as a sculptor, wood engraver, and etcher.
From the beginning, Beccafumi's highly personal style was concerned with light: he made light vibrate to convey emotion or spiritual illumination. He achieved his effects through strong perspective and contrapposto, soft colors, and elongated, elaborately intertwined figures.