Jativa 1591 - Naples 1652
Canvas, 123 x 92 cm
Signed: Jusepe de Ribera F.


Jusepe de Ribera called Lo Spagnoletto by his contemporaries  being a leading painter of the Spanish school although his mature work was all done in Italy. 

Ribera used tenebrism in his paintings, a very strong chiaroscuro with powerful contrasts of light and dark and where darkness becomes an imperious feature of the image. This technique was developed to add drama to an image through a spotlight effect and was fashionable during the Baroque period of painting.

Along with his massive and domineering  shadows, Ribera tented to retain a great strength in local colouring. His forms albeit ordinary and sometimes coarse, are precise and the impression of his works gloomy and startling. He revealed 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.

When Ribera moved to Naples(Kingdom of Naples) around 1616, it belonged to the Spanish Empire. He was there part of the small governing class in the city as well as the Flemish merchant community, who included influential collectors. Ribera attracted the current viceroy's attention the 3rd Duke of Osuna, who gave him various commissions.

And 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. He may have been the chief in the so-called Cabal of Naples and together with his accomplices, they harassed their rivals. 

It is said this group aimed to monopolize Neapolitan art commissions by sabotaging their competitors using intrigue and even personal threats of violence to frighten away outside competitors such as Carracci, the Cavaliere 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 Domenichino's death in 1641.

Ribera's  influence can be found in Velázquez, Murillo and other Spanish painters of that period. He was also an important etcher, the most significant Spanish printmaker before Goya.


Collection Fernando Enrique Afan de Ribera, third Duke of Alcala, viceroy of Naples (1629-1631); later, viceroy of Sicily.
Collection Antonio Luis de la Cerda, seventh Duke of Medinaceli, marquess of Cogolludo.
Collection Giacomo Antonio Balbi, Palazzo Balbi, Genoa.
Anonymous sale (Lugt 9581); Paris (Laneuville expert, Lacoste commissaire-priseur), 28 April 1819, lot 117.
Collection Joachim Carvallo (1869-1936), Chateau de Villandry, Villandry, Indre-et-Loire.
Carvallo family collection, Chateau de Villandry; until, sale, Tours, Hotel des Ventes, 19 November 1953, n. 77.
Private collection, United Kingdom.



Museo del monastero di San Lorenzo, Escorial (123 x 97cm).
National Gallery, Dublin.
Claudine Demarbaix collection, Brussels (134 x 98 cm).
Private collection, Breschia (94,5 x 74,5 cm).
Joan Ramon Triado collection, Barcelona (125 x 95 cm).
Munoz de Ortiz sale, Lepke, Berlin, 13 December 1911, n. 68 (110 x 85 cm).
Private collection at Villa Cipelli, Fiorenzuola d’Adda (125 x 95 cm).
Christie’s, London, May 1995 (119,2 x 79,8 cm., bearing a false signature and date of 1614).
Grassi studio, New York (ex- Boischevalier, Drouot, 19 June 2000).
Palazzo, Falson Historic House Museum, Mdina (117 x 96 cm).
Clovis Whitfield, London (119.5 x 93.5 cm.), see, exh. cat. Caravaggio’s Friends and Foes, London 2010.