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Ribalta, Francisco

Solsona, Lérida (Spain), 1565 - Valencia (Spain), 1628

This artist of Catalan origin received his early training in El Escorial, where he was surrounded by Spanish and Italian artists and their works and was able to follow their most significant innovations. He thus developed an eclectic style that combined Cincinato's rhetoric with Tibaldi's daring foreshortening and Bartolomé Carducho's gravity with Navarrete's dramatic approach, as well as the chiaroscuro treatment of light that characterize the work of the younger Cambiaso. All of these elements emerge clearly in Ribalta's own paintings. He began working professionally in Madrid between 1585 and 1598, painting religious works and portraits. There, he married and had two daughters, followed in 1597 by a son, Juan, who later became a notable painter. In 1599, Ribalta moved to Valencia, probably encouraged by the artistic demands of the patriarch Archbishop Juan de Ribera. He remained there for the rest of his life, working constantly and developing an increasingly personal style that reached the highest quality of naturalism in his mature pieces. Widowed soon after his arrival in Valencia, he never remarried. Between 1603 and 1606 he lived in Algemesí, in southern Valencia, and there he made various altarpieces for the local church, including the main one. He was then called by Archbishop Ribera to make the altarpiece of Saint Vincent Ferrer (1605) for the chapel of Corpus Christi and a large "Last Supper" for the main altarpiece (1606). Following the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609 and the death of patriarch Ribera in 1611, his art became more profound and intimate. In keeping with the more pious dictates of the Counterreformation it drew on the solemn gravity of certain models by Sebastiano del Piombo that he was able to see in Valencia. These, he combined with a direct and naturalist language at which he was especially gifted. His palette also became more contained and sober and his figures became less gestural but more intensely expressive. During the second decade of the 17th century, he was accompanied in his work by his disciple, Vicente Castelló, who imitated his style and eventually married one of his daughters, and by his son, Juan Ribalta, who was already signing his own works in 1615. The three formed a very solid and prolific team of artists in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one from another. This team was later joined by Abdón Castañeda for projects that began around 1620 in Segorbe (Castellón), Jérica (Castellón) and Andilla (Valencia). Apparently, as he himself declared, Francisco Ribalta felt ill in 1618 and chose to remain in Valencia. He was consequently sued by the parish of San Andrés for refusing to accept the post of almoner. His production dropped during that period, but it became more intense around 1622, as he embraced the emotive and movingly forceful naturalism visible in his large "The Embrace of the Crucified Saint Francis", which he painted for the Capucin monks of Valencia. After 1625, his team rejoined him in Valencia to make the main altarpiece of the Portaceli charterhouse. There, Francisco Ribalta, Juan Ribalta and Vicente Castelló jointly crafted a work of notable quality, although some parts appear to be unfinished. Francisco Ribalta died in 1628 and he was followed just a few months later by his son, Juan. Together they had set lasting guidelines for what would long determine the direction of the baroque style (Benito Doménech, F. in: Enciclopedia, 2006, vol. V, pp. 1857-1858).

Artworks (11)

Cristo muerto sostenido por dos ángeles
Oil on canvas, Early XVII century
Ribalta, Francisco
El alma bienaventurada
Oil on canvas, 1605 - 1610
Ribalta, Francisco
El alma en pena
Oil on canvas, 1605 - 1610
Ribalta, Francisco
Mary Magdalene before Christ’s Tomb
Oil on panel, Ca. 1612
Ribalta, Francisco (Attributed to)
Saint Francis comforted by an Angel
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1620
Ribalta, Francisco
Christ embracing Saint Bernard
Oil on canvas, 1625 - 1627
Ribalta, Francisco
The Trinity
Grey-brown wash on yellow paper, Late XVI century
Ribalta, Francisco (Attributed to)
Saint Anthony of Padua
Grey-brown wash on dark yellow paper, XVII century
Ribalta, Francisco
The Immaculate Conception
Grey-brown wash on paper, XVII century
Ribalta, Francisco (Attributed to)

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