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Saint Andrew
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
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Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto

Játiva, Valencia (Spain), 1591 - Naples (Italy), 1652

Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto See author's file

Saint Andrew

Ca. 1631. Oil on canvas.
Room 063B

A man stands before a dark background, portrayed more than half-length with his torso bare and his hair and beard white from age. With his left hand he holds a cross and with his right he holds a hook caught in the mouth of a fish. Both motifs allow us to identify him as the apostle Saint Andrew. The X-shaped cross recalls the one on which he was crucified and the fish with a hook is a reminder that, before he joined Christ, he was a fisherman. Just as his iconographic attributes unmistakeably identify Saint Andrew, the style of the painting leaves no doubts about the identity of the artist and approximate date of the canvas. The marked tenebrism of the work; the contrast between light and shadow that makes the figure of the saint stand out against the dark background, producing a sense of volume through the modelling on his face and body; the brushwork that is both minutely detailed and possessed of enormously descriptive force; and the powerfully classical composition that creates such equilibrium in the way the figure is arranged on the painted surface - all of this is characteristic of Jusepe de Ribera at his best, allowing us to place this work in the last years of the 1620s or early 1630s. This was a period in Ribera´s career when he explored the possibilities of tenebrism extensively, using dark backgrounds to draw attention to the corporeality of his human figures, as one can observe in several of his philosopher portraits from around 1630 and in works such as The bearded woman (La mujer barbuda; Fundación Medinaceli, Toledo) or Saint Roch (San Roque; P1109), both 1631. The human type depicted here, and the painting´s composition, are notably similar to Ribera´s philosopher now housed at the Palazzo Durazzo-Pallavicini in Genoa. Like that figure -and unlike his other philosophers, apostles, and the majority of the saints he painted in those years- Saint Andrew is half-nude. The narrative justification for this is found in the presence of the fish and the painter´s desire to refer to Andrew´s work as a fisherman. From a purely pictorial standpoint, Ribera has made an excellent decision in presenting the saint with his torso bare. In contrast to the monotony of the clothing worn by saints and philosophers -even when the latter are clad in rags- Saint Andrew´s nude torso allows Ribera to demonstrate how he was one of the most skilled artists of his time in describing human anatomy. The choice offers him the opportunity to lose himself in the representation of a thousand details in the saint´s worn, aged flesh. He is also, in this way, able to create a very believable and organic sense of continuity between the torso and the head, which, with its angular features, conveys an impression of great nobility. The saint´s body, his head and hands, all produce a very effective emotional atmosphere. The fingers of his left hand grasp the cross of his martyrdom and his wrinkled skin contrasts with the smoothness of the wood, drawing the viewer´s attention to this object. At the same time, the right side of his body is exposed to the greatest amount of light and is likewise an important focus of attention. Cross and flesh are related through the process of suffering and martyrdom; Saint Andrew´s intensely contemplative expression only serves to underscore that relationship. Ribera´s masterful ability to create a work full of emotional content, based on an apparently simple compositional scheme with a reduced colour palette, helps explain his popularity among realist artists from the nineteenth century, for many of whom he was a guide. Prominent among them is Mariano Fortuny whose Elderly nude man in the sun (P2612) owes much to his admiration for the seventeenthcentury painter from Valencia (Barón, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 258).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
Saint Andrew
Ca. 1631
Height: 123 cm; Width: 95 cm
Royal Collection (Casita del Príncipe, El Escorial-Madrid, 1700-1837).

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo ilustrado de la Sala de Velázquez en el Museo del Prado, J. Laurent y Cia., Fotógrafos Editores, Madrid, 1899, pp. 31.

Mayer, August L., Jusepe de Ribera, lo Spagnoletto, verlag von Karl W. Hiersemann, 1923, pp. 75.

Noul, M., Sotomayor, F., Muguruza, P., Les chefs-d'oeuvre du Musée du Prado, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ginebra, 1939.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, Nueva York, 1952, pp. 94 L.60.

Tüngel, Richard, 400 Jahre Kunst, Kultur, und Geschichte im Prado, Schweizer Verlagshaus, Zurich, 1964, pp. 172.

Exposicion de Arte Español, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Tokio, 1970.

Salas, Xavier de, 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. 99.

Jusepe de Ribera: lo Spagnoletto, 1591-1652, Washington University Press, Fort Worth, 1982, pp. 185.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 549.

Carroggio, Fernando, Historia del arte, V, CarroggioS.A., Barcelona, 1985, pp. 329.

Menéndez Pidal, Ramón, Historia de España, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1986, pp. 693/lám. 281.

Réau, Louis (1881-1961), Iconographie de L'Art Chretien. T. I. Introduction Generale, Kraus Reprint, Millwood, 1988, pp. 79.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº458.

Benito Domènech, Fernando (1949-2001), Ribera. 1591-1652, Bancaja, Valencia, 1991, pp. 75-76.

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

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E. (1935-2010), Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652, Electa, Nápoles, 1992, pp. 174.

Ribera: (1591-1652), Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 246, nº41.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2001, pp. 24.

Portús Pérez, Javier, La colección de pintura española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 79.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 286.

López Fanjul, M.; Pérez Preciado, J.J., Los números y marcas de colección en los cuadros del Museo del Prado, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIII, 2005, pp. 84-110.

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado., Tokio - Osaka, 2006.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 258,260, nº97.

Barón, Javier, 'El virtuosismo en la pintura española del s.XIX: Mariano Fortuny, Martín Rico y Raimundo de Madrazo' En: Del realismo al impresionismo, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado - Galaxia Gutenberg, Madrid, 2014, pp. 237-265 [252].

Brown, Jonathan, In the shadow of Velázquez: a life in art history, Yale University Press, New Haven And London, 2014, pp. 44 f.19.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1078.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1078.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 458.
Ribera. / 458. El apostol San Andres (figura de medio cuerpo). (e.) / Alto 4 pies, 5 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 5 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 458.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 973.

Exhibitions +

Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer. Parallel visions
25.06.2019 - 29.09.2019

Museo del Prado 1819-2019. A place of memory
19.11.2018 - 10.03.2019

Temporary exhibition: Saint Andrew (after Ribera) by Fortuny
01.04.2014 - 26.10.2014

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
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
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

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

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

José de Ribera
Nueva York NY
15.09.1992 - 29.11.1992

José de Ribera
02.06.1992 - 16.08.1992

José de Ribera
27.02.1992 - 17.05.1992

Location +

Room 063B (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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