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Saint Sebastian
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 Sebastian

1636. Oil on canvas. Not on display

Over the course of his career, Jusepe de Ribera Spanish repeatedly explored certain devotional subjects, among them Saint Bartholomew, Mary Magdalene, Saint Jerome, and Saint Sebastian. The latter is a recurring figure whom Ribera depicted both in the traditional manner, pierced by multiple arrows, and in the less-frequent presentation, being cured of the resulting wounds by Saint Irene. Ribera´s frequent portrayals of the saint derived from the fact that Sebastian was one of the most popular saints in Catholic Europe stemming from his role in protecting the faithful from the plague.

In this half-length work, Saint Sebastian, solidly bound to a tree, turns his gaze to the heavens with an expression that signals his voluntary acceptance of martyrdom. The placement of the arrows underscores the saint´s wiry, muscular body, accentuated by the use of dark and light to intensify the emotional power of the scene. The same year that Ribera executed this work, he painted another image of Saint Sebastian that hung at the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, until it was destroyed in World War II. These two paintings offer a clear picture of two very different approaches to martyrdom and nudity by the artist. The Berlin work was a full-length depiction of the saint in which Sebastian is unconscious, with his knees on the ground, dangling from the tree to which his arms have been tied. As a result, his figure is extraordinarily twisted, emphasizing the sensation of suffering and martyrdom. In the Prado canvas, however, Sebastian remains fully conscious, providing an example of acceptance and faith in the face of suffering. Thus, despite the violence of the subject, this image is imbued with a serenity that stresses devotion rather than cruelty. In 1651, a year before his death, Ribera took one further step in that direction with a work for the charterhouse of San Martino, Naples, in which the saint´s torso is depicted in a more diagonal posture.

In the Prado painting, the nude human body assumes greater importance than in almost any other work by Ribera. But here, flesh is not used to transmit the sensual values most commonly associated with the nude body since antiquity; instead, it is presented in a religious sense. Its models have roots in classical sculpture, but they now become instruments for conveying religious content associated with the Counter-Reformation, where images of martyrdom served as exemplars to the faithful. Ribera´s understanding of the body as the principal vehicle for communicating sentiments and emotions coincides with that of classical artists—what changes is the nature of those sentiments. Unlike scenes of mythological torment, in which Ribera transmits horror and suffering through both the figures´ twisted bodies and their facial expressions, his holy martyrdoms emphasize the dichotomy between their protagonists´ serene and resigned expressions and their battered bodies. This Saint Sebastian is one of the finest examples of that dichotomy, as Ribera achieves a masterful balance of emotional and compositional elements by focusing the light on the saint´s chest and modeling his anatomy with contrasting light and shadows.

Portús Pérez, Javier, 'Jusepe de Ribera. Saint Sebastian'' En:. Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado, Clark Art Institute; Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, p.178--181 n.27

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Technical data

Inventory number
P001095
Author
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
Title
Saint Sebastian
Date
1636
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 127 cm.; Width: 100 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (New Royal Palace, Madrid, “tercera pieza de la Furriera”, 1747, n. 189; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “pieza de paso al dormitorio de la serenísima infanta-pieza de retrete”, 1794, n. 189; Royal Palace, Madrid, “cuarto del infante don Francisco-segunda pieza”, 1814-1818, s. n.)

Bibliography +

Inventario Real Palacio de Madrid. 1747, Madrid, 1747.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 9.

Lefort, Paul, La Peinture Espagnole, Librairies Imprimeries Reunies, París, 1893, pp. 145.

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. 17.

Lozoya, Juan de Contreras y López de Ayala, Marqués de, Historia del arte hispánico, Salvat, Barcelona, 1945, pp. 136.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, [Hispanic Society of America], Nueva York, 1952, pp. 91/lám. 57.

Justi, Carl, Velázquez y su siglo, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1953, pp. 565.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Ascione, Benjamino, San Sebastiano Nella Storia e Nell'Arte, Il Vesuvio, Napoles, 1973, pp. lám. 52.

Spinosa, Nicola., La obra pictórica completa de Ribera /, Noguer, Barcelona.Madrid, 1978, pp. 114.

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

Fernández Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales. Carlos III. 1789-1790. Vol. I, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 54.

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

Benito Domènech, Fernando, Ribera, 1591-1652, Bancaja, Valencia, 1991, pp. 173.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652, Electa, Nápoles, 1992, pp. 231.

Orihuela, Mercedes, Jusepe de Ribera. Fons Dels Museus del Prado i Sant Pius V, Museo San Pio V, Valencia, 1992.

Ribera, 1591-1652, Catálogo de la exposición celebrada en Madrid, Museo del Prado, 2 junio-16 agosto 1992, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 294.

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. 32.

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 2002.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 298.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera: la obra completa, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 408.

Del Greco a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, Museo de Arte de Ponce. MNP. AC/E, 2012, pp. 38-39.

Portús Pérez, Javier, 'Jusepe de Ribera. Saint Sebastian'' En:, Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado, Clark Art Institute; Museo Nacional del Prado, 2016, pp. 178--181 n.27.

Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 189.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la tercera pieza [...] {10404} 189 / Otra [pintura] de San Sebastian de vara y media de cayda original del Españoleto = 3000 rs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. 189.
Pieza de paso al dormitº. de la Sª. Ynfanta [...] Pieza de Retrete [...] {503} 189 / Otro [quadro] del mismo tamaño que el antecedente [vara y media de alto y cinco quartas escasas de ancho]. Sn. Sebastian. Yd. [Rivera] ... 4000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Quarto del Infante Don Francisco [...] Segunda pieza [...] {21907} 156 / Dos varas menos tercia alto, vara y quarta ancho, San Cristobal con el Niño Jesus = San Sebastián

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 125.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 125.
Ribera / 125. San Sebastián (media figura) / Se ve al santo mártir asaetado contra un árbol, con el costado y el brazo atravesado por dos flechas. / Alto 4 pies, 6 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 3 pies, 7 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 993.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1095.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1095.

Exhibitions +

Splendor, Myth and Vision: Nudes from the Prado
Williamstown MA
12.06.2016 - 10.10.2016

Intercambio con el Musée Calvet [Intercambio El Greco y la pintura moderna]
Aviñón
12.06.2014 - 15.10.2014

From El Greco to Goya: Masterpieces from the Museo del Prado
Ponce, Puerto Rico
25.03.2012 - 16.07.2012

Obras Maestras del Museo del Prado - Tokio
Tokio
05.03.2002 - 23.06.2002

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

José de Ribera: diez obras del Museo del Prado
Valencia
16.12.1991 - 30.01.1992

Displayed objects +

Bow/Arrow

Update date: 02-07-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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