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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


1632. Oil on canvas.
Room 001

Tityus, the son of Jupiter and Elara, appears chained to the boulder in Tartarus while an eagle eternally devours his liver. The Giant received that punishment for attempting to rape one of his father’s lovers with the encouragement of Juno. The subject of the Furies -Tityus, Ixion, Tantalus and Sisyphus- became quite popular in European art of the Modern Age, especially in palace decorations. These figures were interpreted as representing the implacable power of the reigning dynasty in the face of the unfaithfulness, pride and arrogance of those who opposed the supremacy of the Monarchy. Ribera probably knew prints of the so-called Furies of the Alcázar of Madrid, which Titian had painted for Marie of Hungary with the same plot and subject. This type of composition allowed the artist to make large works with monumental forms that, in this case, were well suited to Ribera’s strong and powerful style.

It was probably this work (the corresponding letter of payment actually mentions an Ysion and a Sísifo, but the latter may be a simple error) that was acquired alongside Ixion in Madrid in 1634 from the Marchioness of Charela, grandmother of one of the king’s illegitimate sons. The purchaser was Jerónimo de Villanueva, pro-notary of Aragon, and the works were intended as decoration for the Buen Retiro Palace. The letter of payment explains only how the paintings were purchased, without excluding the possibility that they were commissioned directly from the artist in Naples for the king. In fact, the combination of subjects represented and the enormous dimensions of these works make it unlikely that they were anything other than a royal commission. We know that paintings by Ribera were already in the Royal Collection in 1630, as Philip IV greatly admired his work. And, while these were very probably part of a series of four, nothing is known of the other two.

Tityus and Ixion are endowed with extraordinary visual force and compositional creativity, and they are impressive and frightful in equal measure. Depicted considerably larger than life, Tityus lies face up, waving his limbs like a windmill with his face contorted in an unending cry of agony while the eagle rips out his entrails through a gash in his side. The head leaned back, deeply wrinkled forehead and open mouth reappear in two famous later depictions of Apollo and Marsyas, from 1637, which also address the punishment of arrogance (Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, and Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts). Tityus’s posture is based on Titian’s Tantalus, one of the two Furies missing from the series that Ribera would have known through the print by Giulio Sanuto from around 1565. Here, however, Ribera audaciously inverts the figure’s diagonal orientation so that his legs extend towards the darkness of hell while his upper torso, head and arms project violently into the viewer’s space.

The numbers 800 and 801, painted in white on Ixion and Tityus, respectively, correspond to the numeration of the Buen Retiro Palace’s 1794 inventory. We can therefore deduce with some degree of confidence that both works reached the Buen Retiro in 1634 and remained there uninterruptedly until the late 18th century, entering the Museo del Prado soon thereafter (Text drawn from Portús, J.: Pintura barroca española. Guía, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2001, pp. 84-86; Finaldi, G.: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, pp. 236-237).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Ribera, Jusepe de, lo Spagnoletto
Height: 227 cm; Width: 301 cm
Las Furias
Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1701, [n. 91]; El Buen Retiro Palace, 1794, n. 801).

Bibliography +

Inventario. Palacio Real de Madrid. I Pinturas., III, Madrid, 1686, pp. ?.

Trapier, Elizabeth du Gué, Ribera, Nueva York, 1952, pp. 79-81 L.50.

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

Bermejo de la Rica, A., La Mitologia en el Museo del Prado, Editora Nacional, Madrid, 1974, pp. 277.

Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Sobre los monstruos de Ribera, Archivo español de arte, 47, 1974, pp. 242 lám. 2.

Spinosa, Nicola, La obra pictórica completa de Ribera, Noguer, Barcelona; Madrid, 1978, pp. 103.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1981, pp. 284.

Jusepe de Ribera: lo Spagnoletto, 1591-1652, Washington University Press, Fort Worth, 1982, pp. 58/lám. 33.

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del siglo XVII, Editorial de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1982, pp. 1242.

Feigenbaum, G., Around 1610. The Onset of the Baroque, Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd, Londres, 1985, pp. 103/lám. 1.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 556.

López Torrijos, Rosa, La mitología en la pintura española del Siglo de Oro, Cátedra, Madrid, 1985, pp. 400.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, Garland PublishingInc, Nueva York. Londres, 1986, pp. ?/lám. 707.

Fernández Miranda y Lozana, Fernando, Inventarios Reales. Carlos III. 1789-1790. Vol. I, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1988, pp. 293.

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. 87.

Ribera: (1591-1652), Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1992, pp. 268.

López Torrijos, Rosa, Mitologia e Historia en las Obras Maestras del Prado, Scala Books, Londres, 1998, pp. 64.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura barroca española: guía, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2001, pp. 84.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera, Electa, Napoli, 2003, pp. 287.

Finaldi, Gabriele, En: El Palacio del Rey Planeta, Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Úbeda de los cobos, A. (ed), El Palacio del Rey Planeta: Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 236.

Kagan, R.L, Yankees in the Prado. A historiographical overview, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXV, 2007, pp. 32-45.

Spinosa, Nicola, Ribera: la obra completa, Fundación Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2008, pp. 393.

Langdon, Helen, Salvator Rosa, Paul Holberton Publishing, 2010.

Falomir Faus, Miguel, 'De monarcas, traidores y amantes depechados'. En Las Furias : alegoría política y desafío artístico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 63-74 [67].

Falomir Faus, Miguel, 'El desafío artístico: Escorzos inverosímiles y expresiones extremas.' En:, Las Furias. Alegoría política y desafío artístico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 75-124 [100-108 fg.65].

Farina, Viviana, Al sole e all'ombra di Ribera. Questioni di pittura e disegno a Napoli nella prima metà del Seicento., 1, Nicola Longobardi Editore, Napoles, 2014, pp. 85,161 f.97.

Marshall, Christopher R., Baroque Naples and the industry of painting, Yale University Press,, 2016, pp. 223-225 f.169.

van Gastel, Joris, Slow violence: Jusepe de Ribera and the limits of Naturalism, Oxford art journal, 41 1, 2018, pp. 3-17.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [91].
[91] Una Pinttura de ttres varas y media de largo y dos y media de altto de la fabula del tiçio Comiendole el Buitre las enttrañas Original del Grande españoletto Jusepe de Riuera con marco negro tassada en setentta doblones ... 4200

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1004.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1113.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1113.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 121.
Ribera. / 121. Prometeo. / Habiendo robado el fuego del cielo pº animar sus figuras de barro, fue sentenciado por Júpiter á que, encadenado sobre el monte Cáucaso, un buitre le devorase el higado, el cual habia de reproducirse para que no cesase el tormento. Este suplicio duró hasta que fue libertado por Hercules. / Alto 8 pies, 2 pulg; ancho 10, pies, 10 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 121.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 801.
Otra [pintura] de Jph. Ribera, con la Fabula de Ticio, comiendole el Buitre las entrañas, de tres varas y media de alrgo y dos varas y media de alto...5000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Jusepe de Ribera. f. 1632

Exhibitions +

Arte y mito. Los dioses del Prado
15.10.2020 - 14.03.2021

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

The "Furias". From Titian to Ribera
21.01.2014 - 04.05.2014

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

José de Ribera
02.06.1992 - 16.08.1992

José de Ribera
27.02.1992 - 17.05.1992

Location +

Room 001 (On Display)

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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