Jusepe de Ribera was known as Lo Spagnoletto on account of his Spanish origin, which was obviously important to him as he often signed ‘hispanus’. However, at an early age, in around 1605, he moved to Rome where he may have worked in the studio of Caravaggio. In any event he was profoundly influenced by Caravaggio (1571–1610) and was one of his most gifted followers. His earliest multi-figural works, such as the Denial of St Peter (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte, Palazzo Corsini, Rome) have a decorous elegance combined with a dramatic intensity which recalls Caravaggio’s famous St Matthew series painted for San Luigi dei Francesi. While Ribera was working for major forward-looking patrons such as Vincenzo Giustiniani, he also worked for the Spanish community, notably Pietro Cussida (d. 1622) for whom he painted a famous series of The Five Senses. At around this time he also came into contact with Dutch Caravaggesque painters notably Dirck van Baburen (1595–1624) and Hendrick Ter Brugghen (1588–1629). Like them he developed a clientele for single figure paintings of Philosophers, usually rough and ready men in unkempt costumes, holding a book.
Books on Jusepe de Ribera
Gianni Papi, Ribera a Roma, Soncino, 2007.
Nicola Spinosa, Ribera, Naples, 2006.
Alfonso E Pérez Sánchez and Nicola Spinosa, Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652, exh. cat., New York, 1992.
Antonio Palomino de Castro y Lelasco, Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors, 1715-24, trans. Nina Alaya Mallory, Cambridge, 1987.