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Jusepe de Ribera

(Spanish, 1591-1652)

Jusepe de Ribera was a Spanish painter and printmaker born near Valencia, Spain in 1591. He travelled to Rome to study art in 1612 and was given the nickname “Lo Spagnoletto,” or “The Little Spaniard,” by Roman artists. Ribera was a follower of Caravaggio, and joined other Caravaggisti who came to Rome around that time.

In 1616, Ribera had moved to Naples which was governed by a small Spanish ruling class. Ribera began signing his work “Jusepe de Ribera, español” in order to gain the attention of high society. The Viceroy, Pedro Téllez-Girón, took notice and gave Ribera several commissions. By 1626, Ribera received the Order of Christ of Portugal from Pope Urban VIII and was the leading painter of Naples.

His earlier work employs heavy contrasts of shadows and light, while his later work is tonally more diffused and golden. Ribera was interested in painting scenes of horror, cruelty, and sadness, in order to depict truth rather than idealism. His works are in the collections of London’s Royal Academy, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris’s Louvre, and Barcelona’s Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, among others.

Jusepe de Ribera