Art e Dossier


Art History

Jusepe De Ribera: biography

Jusepe de Ribera was born at Jativa (Valencia) where records show that he was baptized on 17 February 1591. Some time around 1610 he made a journey to Northern Italy and sojourned in Lombardy and Emilia, and passed through Parma and Bologna. In 1613 he reached Rome where he met the physician and art lover, Giulio Mancini who in his Considerazioni sulla pittura provided a lively portrait of the artist’s exuberant and nonconformist character. In Rome, Ribera applied to the Accademia di San Luca. Then, in 1616 he suddenly fled to Naples – perhaps to escape from his creditors, and it was in the capital of the Spanish vice-royalty that he did all his work. Shortly after his arrival in Naples he married Caterina Azzolino, daughter of the Sicilian artist Giovan Bernardo who had already been working in Naples for many years. Between 1621 and 1624 Ribera did many paintings for the duchess of Osuna, for the duke of Alcalà, the Spanish Ambassador and for prince Marcantonio Doria. In 1625 he was visited by José Martinez with whom he discussed his penchant for the art of antiquity, the masters of the Italian Renaissance and his relationships with the artistic world in Spain. In January 1626 he went to Rome to receive the cross of the knights of the Ordine di Cristo in St. Peter’s Basilica. After a visit from Velasquez in 1639 Ribera’s fame spread to the court of Philip IV, and to the Spanish nobility and clergy. He was working frenetically, he painted for the king of Spain (1631-1632) and for the church of Las Agustinas Descalzas in Salamanca (1634-1636). In 1636 count Karl Felisberg of Liechtenstein commissioned him to do twelve portraits of the Ancient Philosophers for his library. In 1637 he signed a contract for several paintings for the Charterhouse of San Martino in Naples, but he only delivered the last painting in 1651. In 1647 when Domenichino died, Lo Spagnoletto [the little Spaniard], as Ribera was known, was called to complete the decorations in the chapel of San Gennaro in the Naples cathedral that the Bolognese painter had left unfinished. The Masaniello revolt (1647-1648) may have briefly interrupted this period of intensive work. Ribera took refuge in the royal palace in Naples where he remained until the arrival of Johann of Austria, the new viceroy and who became his protector. In 1651 he completed the Last Supper for the charterhouse of San Martino, about fourteen years after he had signed the original contract. Ribera’s life ended on 3 September 1552, he was buried in the church of Santa Maria del Porto at Mergellina.

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