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Ribera, José de

Játiva, Valencia, 1591 - Naples, 1652

Chronologically, José de Ribera is the first of the great Spanish masters to emerge in the middle decades of the 17th century. His earliest training as an artist is still the object of conjecture, but there is documentation of his presence in Parma in 1611, when he was twenty years old. Four years later, he was in Rome as part of a colony of foreign painters. His life may have been quite bohemian at that time, as he is said to have fled the city to escape his creditors. By 1616 he was in Naples, where he married the daughter of Bernardino Azzolino, an important and prestigious local painter. At that time, the kingdom of Naples was under Spanish rule, and Ribera lived there for the rest of his life. Besides his important clients in Rome and other cities outside Naples, the young painter was rapidly discovered by the Duke of Osuna, Spain’s viceroy in Naples at that time. Osuna, and all of his successors at that post (the Duke of Alcalá, the Count of Monterrey and the Duke of Medina de las Torres), sent Ribera’s work to Spain, especially to the royal collection.
In fact, Philip IV eventually accumulated more paintings by Ribera than by any other Spanish artist (around one hundred paintings, distributed between El Escorial and the Royal Palace in Madrid). Despite Ribera’s influence on Spanish painters, critics and art historian consider his style, types and subject matter markedly foreign. Ribera adopted an extreme version of Caravaggio’s naturalism, as can be seen in his use of strongly contrasted light and shadows, and his rough personages presented with raw realism. He also absorbed features of other artistic languages from his time, including aspects of Bolognese classicism and Roman color. This diversity of expressive means made him unique among his Spanish contemporaries. Besides religious subjects, Ribera cultivated other genres that were practically unknown in Spain at that time, including his series of beggars and of philosophers from classical Antiquity, as well as scenes taken from classical mythology, which he must have known very well. He was also a prolific draftsman and an expert engraver, and these, too, were uncommon skills among Spanish artists of his period. Technically, Ribera’s paintings are characterized by thick impastos whose tactile quality he very effectively employed to represent different textures and to convey a sense of tridimensional monumentality (Pérez d'Ors, P. in: Del Greco a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado, Museo de Arte de Ponce, 2012, pp. 91-92).

Artworks (82)

San Jerónimo
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Attributed to)
Tityus
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Copy)
The Immaculate Conception
Oil on canvas, First half of the XVII century
Ribera, José de
Un anacoreta
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de
San Andrés
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de
Saint John the Evangelist in Patmos
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Attributed to)
Santo Tomás
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Attributed to)
Sísifo
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Copy)
Tantalus
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Ribera, José de (Copy)

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