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Penitent Saint Jerome
Ribera, José de
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Ribera, José de

Játiva, Valencia, 1591 - Nápoles, 1652

Miniatura autor

Penitent Saint Jerome

1652. Oil on canvas, 77.2 x 71.8 cm.

Emerging from a dark background, a half-length image of a man appears in the close foreground, his right shoulder and arm bare, his hair white and long, his features aged. He holds a wooden cross in his left hand and with his right he strikes his chest with a stone. The cross identifies him as a saint; his nakedness and dishevelled appearance indicate he is a hermit or a penitent; the stone with which he wounds himself makes it clear that he is Saint Jerome. Though this attribute was not especially common, it would be sufficiently familiar for a large proportion of its viewers in the Golden Age. As an indication of the accessibility of the reference, one can cite a passage from Lope de Vega´s play, Amar sin saber a quién (Loving without knowing whom) (1620-22), where one of the characters refers to the monastery of Saint Jerome in the following fashion, alluding to the saint´s open wound on his chest: Subí, y piqué al monasterio del santo, que, como carta, hizo sello de una piedra sobre nema colorada. (I spurred [the mule] up to the monastery of that saint who, as upon a letter, making a stamp from a stone, pressed it against a red seal. Act 1, lines 298–301.) Of all the figures from sacred history, Ribera chose to portray Saint Jerome most frequently; nearly 30 paintings feature the saint, in addition to three widely disseminated prints. Images of Jerome appear throughout Ribera´s career and, in fact, his first signed work dated c.1614, was an image of this saint (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto). In each case, Ribera avoided the standard iconography of Jerome dressed as a cardinal; rather, the artist presents him with an appearance and dress that emphasise his activity as a penitent -often accompanied by books, so as to recall the intellectual prestige of the man responsible for the Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. Ribera´s predilection for presenting Jerome´ the penitent reflects not only the artist´s own interests in that aspect of the narrative, but it also responds to the expectations of his patrons and of the Catholic Church during the Counter Reformation. Such images, like similar ones of Mary Magdalene, were a means of defending the doctrine of penitence and repentance. This work, however, dispenses with any allusion to matters of the intellect, instead opting for a presentation that emphasises devotional sentiments. The saint here is not one who thinks or meditates but rather a believer who feels. The entire work communicates a sense of longing: the figure´s proximity in the foreground bringing him closer to the viewer; his expectant gaze toward heaven; his tousled, unkempt hair and beard suggesting a man who lives separate from any human contact; his body leaning forward; the determination with which he grasps the cross and the rock; even the brushwork itself. Ribera has executed the painting with extraordinarily lively brushstrokes, agile and confident, creating an impastoed texture that is particularly dense in the areas of his hands and hair, which have been built up from a series of rapid, clean, distinct touches of the brush. The format of this painting is almost square, something that is infrequent in Ribera´s output. The painting is signed and dated 1652, when the artist had already turned 60, and he had only a few remaining months of life. A comparison of this work with his earlier representations of Saint Jerome demonstrates the extent to which, over the course of his career, he had increasingly sought to provoke the viewer´s affective involvement, and how here he managed to achieve that objective (Portús, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 136).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P01098
Author
Ribera, José de
Title
Penitent Saint Jerome
Date
1652
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
High/Height: 77.2 cm.; Width: 71.8 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Isabel Farnesio, Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, "pieza donde se decía misa antiguamente", 1746, n. 517; La Granja Palace, "pieza tercera de azulejos", 1766, n. 517; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "pieza de retrete", 1794, n. 517; Royal Palace, Madrid, "dormitorio de príncipes-pieza séptima", 1814-1818, n. 517).

Bibliography +

Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso. La Granja., Inventario general Pinturas, Muebles y otras alhajas de la Reina Nuestra Señora que tiene en el Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, VII, Madrid, 1746, pp. 39.

Ceán Bermúdez, Juan Agustín1749-1829, Diccionario historico de los mas ilustres profesores de las, IV, en la imprenta de la Viuda de Ibarra, 1800, pp. 193.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, [s.n, Madrid, 1834, pp. 17.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catalogo ilustrado de la Sala de Velazquez en el Museo del P, J. Laurent y Cia., Fotógrafos Editores, Madrid, 1899, pp. 25.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, [Hispanic Society of America], Nueva York, 1952, pp. 227.

Felton, C., Jusepe Ribera. A catalogue raisonné, Pittsburg, 1971, pp. 115.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Spinosa, Nicola., La obra pictórica completa de Ribera /, Noguer, Barcelona Madrid, 1978, pp. 125.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 552.

De Greco à Picasso, Cinq Siècles d' Art espagnol, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1987, pp. 142.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, I, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº269.

Garcia-Noriega y Nieto, L., Presencia del Museo del Prado en Mexico. José de Ribera, Fundacion Cultural Televisa, Mexico, 1990.

Jusepe de Ribera, Piero CorsinoInc., Nueva York, 1992.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652, Electa, Nápoles, 1992, pp. 276.

Ribera (1591-1652), Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 398.

Ribera, 1591-1652, Fundación Social y Cultural Kutxa, San Sebastián, 1993.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 42.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E. (1935-2010)), Jusepe de Ribera el Españoleto., Lunwerg, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 126-127.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 344.

Aterido, Angel, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio: inventarios reales, II, Fundacion de Apoyo de la Historia, Madrid, 2004, pp. 454.

Aún aprendo : últimas obras de Tiziano a Tápies, M. Arte Contemp. Esteban Vicente, Segovia, 2007.

Spinosa, N., Ribera. La obra completa, Fundación Arte Hispánico, 2008, pp. 481, A363.

Portús, J., Ribera, Polígrafa, Barcelona, 2011, pp. 116.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 136-137, nº29.

Other inventories +

Inv. Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 517.
Una Pintura origl en Lienzo de mano de Jph. Rivera, que reptª Sn Geronimo con un Canto en la manoo derecha, y la Cruz en la izquierda. Tiene tres quartas y ocho dedos de alto. tres, y quatro de ancho. Marco dorado con Targetas a las Esquinas ... 1

Inv. Testamentaría Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1766. Núm. 517.
Pieza tercera de Azulejos [...] 517 / Otro [quadro] de tres pies de alto, y quasi lo mismo de ancho, marco dorado, con targetas, representa à sn Geronimo, del Españoleto, vale quatrocientos rs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 517.
Pieza de Retrete [...] {509} 517 / Vara en quadro: Sn. Geronimo. Rivera ... 3000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 517.
Dormitorio de Principes [...] Pieza septima [...] {21745} 517 / Vara y cuarta en cuadro San Jerónimo con la cruz y el canto en las manos = Ribera

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 269.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 269.
Ribera. / 269. San Geronimo. (Busto con manos). / En ellas una cruz y un guijarro. / Alto 2 pies, 9 pulg; ancho 2 pies, 6 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 996.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1098.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1098.

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Aún aprendo. Últimas obras de Tiziano a Tàpies
Segovia
25.09.2007 - 13.01.2008

El salvaje europeo
Valencia
15.06.2004 - 31.08.2004

El salvaje europeo
Barcelona
18.02.2004 - 23.05.2004

José de Ribera. El Españoleto
México D.F.
08.05.2003 - 30.09.2003

Ribera
San Sebastián
24.07.1993 - 05.09.1993

José de Ribera
Madrid
02.06.1992 - 16.08.1992

José de Ribera
Nápoles
27.02.1992 - 17.05.1992

Presencia del Museo del Prado en Méjico
México D.F.
07.12.1989 - 07.06.1990

Cinco Siglos de Arte Español
París
05.10.1987 - 05.01.1988

Location +

Room 008 (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 25-11-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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