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José de Ribera ( Jusepe de Ribera)


The taste

The sense of touch

The Drinker

Girl with Tambourine

Adoration of the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds , detail

Apollo and Marsyas

Apollo and Marsyas

Apollo and Marsyas , detail

Communion of the Apostles

Communion of the Apostles , detail

Communion of the Apostles , detail


Penitent Magdalen

Penitent St Jerome

The blind Isaac blesses Jacob

The blind Isaac blesses Jacob , detail

The St. Francis of Assisi and the angel

St. Jerome and the Angel


The Drunken Silenus

The drunken Silenus , detail

The drunken Silenus , detail

The Liberation of St. Peter

The Penitent Mary Magdalene , fragment


Duel between two ladies

St. Agnes in prison

St. Andrew , Apostle

St. Bruno , the Carthusians

St. Christopher with the Child Jesus

St. Elias

Holy Family with St Bruno

Holy Family with St Bruno , detail

Holy Family with St Bruno , detail

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Mary of Egypt

Holy Moses

St. Roch

St. Sebastian

St. Sebastian

St. Simeon with Christ Child

St. Simon

Holy Trinity

Jacob's Dream

John the Baptist in the Desert


Martyrdom of St. Andrew

Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew

Martyrdom of Saint Philip

Martyrdom of St. Philip , detail

Mystic Marriage of St. Karharina

Mystic Marriage of St. Karharina , detail


Pieta, detail: head of Mary

Portrait of a Jesuit missionary

Portrait of a Knight of the Order of Santiago


Baptism of Christ

Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis, detail: Venus

Transfiguration of St. Mary Magdalene




Diogenes 2






Jusepe de Ribera, probably an italianization of Josep de Ribera (January 12, 1591 – September 2, 1652) was a Spanish Tenebrist painter and printmaker, also known as José de Ribera in Spanish and as Giuseppe Ribera in Italian. He was also called by his contemporaries and early writers Lo Spagnoletto, or "the Little Spaniard". Ribera was a leading painter of the Spanish school, although his mature work was all done in Italy.

Early life

Ribera was born near Valencia, Spain at Xàtiva. He was baptized on February 17, 1591. His father was a shoemaker, perhaps on a large scale. His parents intended him for a literary or learned career, but he neglected these studies and is said to have apprenticed with the Spanish painter Francisco Ribalta in Valencia, although no proof of this connection exists. Longing to study art in Italy, he made his way to Rome via Parma, where he is recorded in 1611. According to one source, a cardinal noticed him drawing from the frescoes on a Roman palace facade, and housed him. Roman artists gave him the nickname "Lo Spagnoletto."

He became a follower of Caravaggio's style, one of the so-called Tenebrosi, or shadow-painters, owing to the sharp contrasts of light and shade marking their style. He traveled to Parma, where he completed a painting on the subject of Jacob's Ladder, now in the Prado Museum, Madrid. Ribera lived in Rome from 1613–16, on the Via Margutta, and associated with other Caravaggisti, including Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrik ter Brugghen. He then moved to Naples, to avoid his creditors, according to Giulio Mancini, who described him as extravagant. He may also have already arranged his marriage, to the daughter of a Neapolitan painter, Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino, in November, 1616.

Neapolitan period

The Kingdom of Naples was then part of the Spanish Empire, and ruled by a succession of Spanish Viceroys. Ribera's Spanish nationality aligned him with the small Spanish governing class in the city, and also with the Flemish merchant community, from another Spanish territory, who included important collectors of and dealers in art. Ribera began to sign his work as "Jusepe de Ribera, Español" or "Jusepe de Ribera, Spaniard". He was able to quickly attract the attention of the Viceroy, the Duke of Osuna, also recently arrived, who gave him a number of major commissions, which showed the influence of Guido Reni.
Martyrdom of St Philip[1], 1639, Prado, Madrid

The period after Osuna was recalled in 1620 seems to have been difficult. Few paintings survive from 1620 to 1626; but this was the period in which most of his best prints were produced. These were at least partly an attempt to attract attention from a wider audience than Naples. His career picked up in the late 1620s, and he was accepted as the leading painter in Naples thereafter. Although Ribera never returned to Spain, many of his paintings were taken back by returning members of the Spanish governing class, for example the Duke of Osuna, and his etchings were brought to Spain by dealers. His influence can be seen in Velázquez, Murillo, and most other Spanish painters of the period.

He has been portrayed as selfishly protecting his prosperity, and is reputed to have been the chief in the so-called Cabal of Naples, his abettors being a Greek painter, Belisario Corenzio and the Neapolitan, Giambattista Caracciolo. It is said this group aimed to monopolize Neapolitan art commissions, using intrigue, sabotage of work in progress, and even personal threats of violence to frighten away outside competitors such as Annibale Carracci, the Cavalier d'Arpino, Reni, and Domenichino. All of them were invited to work in Naples, but found the place inhospitable. The cabal ended at the time of Caracciolo's death in 1641.

Later life

From 1644, Ribera seems to have suffered serious ill-health, which greatly reduced his ability to work himself, although his workshop continued to produce. In 1647-8, during the Masaniello rising against Spanish rule, he felt forced to take refuge with his family in the palace of the Viceroy for some months. In 1651 he sold the large house he had owned for many years, and when he died on September 2, 1652 he was in serious financial difficulties. His daughter had married in about 1644 a Spanish nobleman in the administration, who died soon after.
Prometheus, c. 1630


In his earlier style, founded sometimes on Caravaggio and sometimes on the wholly diverse method of Correggio, the study of Spanish and Venetian masters can be traced. Along with his massive and predominating shadows, he retained from first to last a great strength in local coloring. His forms, though ordinary and sometimes coarse, are correct; the impression of his works gloomy and startling. He delighted in subjects of horror. In the early 1630s his style changed away from strong contrasts of dark and light to a more diffused and golden lighting. Salvator Rosa and Luca Giordano were his most distinguished followers, who may have been his pupils; others were also Giovanni Do, Enrico Fiammingo, Michelangelo Fracanzani, and Aniello Falcone, who was the first considerable painter of battle-pieces.

Among Ribera's principal works could be named "St Januarius Emerging from the Furnace" in the cathedral of Naples; the "Descent from the Cross" in the Certosa, Naples, the "Adoration of the Shepherds" (a late work, 1650), now in the Louvre; the "Martyrdom of St Bartholomew" in the Prado; and the "Pieta" in the sacristy of San Martino, Naples. His mythologic subjects are often as violent as his martyrdoms: for example, "Apollo and Marsyas", with versions in Brussels and Naples, or the "Tityus" in the Prado . The Prado and Louvre contain numbers of his paintings; the National Gallery, London, three. He executed several fine male portraits and a self-portrait. He was an important etcher, the most significant Spanish printmaker before Goya, producing about forty prints, nearly all in the 1620s.
Archimedes, c. 1630)


   1. ^ Often described as Saint Bartholemew, martyred in similar fashion, but now recognised as St Philip. See Museo del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, 1996, p. 315, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, Madrid, No ISBN


    * Main source: Scholz-Hänsel, Michael. (2000). Jusepe de Ribera, 1591-1652. Cologne: Könemann. ISBN 3829028725

Further reading

    * Brown, Jonathan. (1973). Jusepe de Ribera: prints and drawings; [catalogue of an exhibition] The Art Museum, Princeton University, October–November 1973. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University. OCLC 781367 the standard work on his prints and drawings.

José de Ribera ( Jusepe de Ribera)

    * Williamson, Mark A. "The Martyrdom Paintings of Jusepe de Ribera: Catharsis and Transformation"; PhD Dissertation, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York 2000 (available online at

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