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 Jusepe (Giuseppe) de Ribera  (1591 - 1652)

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Lived/Active: Spain/Italy      Known for: religious figure painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Jusepe de Ribera was born in 1591 at Jativa, near Valencia, Spain. Nothing is known of his early work except that he received his first instruction from Francisco Ribalta in Valencia and his work was influenced by Veronese and Correggio. Ribera left Spain when he was sixteen, spent some time in Parma and Rome, then settled in Naples in 1616. Naples was a Spanish possession at the time and the largest city in Europe after Paris. Although Ribera never returned to Spain, he continued to think of himself as a Spaniard; the Italians called him La Spagnoletto, the little Spaniard.

Ribera's art followed in the tradition of Caravaggio; the Roman Catholic Church provided most of the subject matter. He was a facile and accomplished worker and so successful in his commissions that he employed a large staff of assistants. He died in 1652.


Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Mark Stevens in Newsweek, January 17, 1983
Masterpieces of Art, catalogue of the New York World's Fair 1940.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Miniatures: Masters of Spanish Painting

Biography from J. Paul Getty Museum and Research Institute:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The "young Spaniard working in the manner of Caravaggio" was causing the Bolognese artists concern, Lodovico Carracci wrote admiringly of Jusepe de Ribera in 1618.  Ribera, second son of a Valencian shoemaker, had only been in Italy about four years and was already making a splash.

After working in Rome and Parma in 1616, Ribera settled in Naples, where he spent his career. Ribera's art combined knowledge of the Carracci and Caravaggio with Spanish realism and vigorous, scratchy brushwork.  He practiced precise draftsmanship and used working-class models.  His large output consisted mainly of religious works, including harrowing scenes of martyrdom that laid the foundation for the Neapolitan painting tradition one critic called "the poetry of the repulsive."

After 1632 Ribera's paintings became softer in tone and more classical in feeling.  His palette lightened, perhaps through Venetian or Flemish influence, and he became primarily concerned with the expression of spirituality.  Throughout the decade, he received major commissions from the Spanish king and the Neapolitan viceroys.  By the 1640s Ribera was wealthy and operated a large workshop.  His influence was extensive, inspiring artists such as Francisco de Zurbarán, Salvator Rosa, and Luca Giordano.

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