San Diego Adds a Jusepe de Ribera

Jusepe de Ribera, Susanna and the Elders, about 1615. San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art has acquired a large, early Susanna and the Elders by Jusepe de Ribera. Measuring about 70 by 54 inches, it was offered by Galeria Caylus, Madrid. The painting was featured in SDMA's 2019 show, "Art and Empire: The Golden Age of Spain." 

Many of Ribera's early paintings went unrecognized prior to recent scholarship. Susanna's nude and the sinister faces of the elders parallel figures in other paintings now assigned to early Ribera. These works show the apex of Caravaggio's influence on the young artist.

This becomes the second Ribera painting in the SDMA collection. The first was itself acquired only in 2016. Though identified as St. James the Lesser at the time of its purchase, it's now believed to be an unconventional (no-knife) depiction of Saint Bartholomew

Jusepe de Ribera, Saint Bartholomew, about 1632. San Diego Museum of Art


The Spanish Ribera (d. 1652) spent the lion's share of his career in Naples, then a possession in the Spanish Empire.
San Diego's latest purchase bears witness to the deepest darkness that Neapolitan Baroque painters suffused their works with at that time.
Many of the Neapolitan painters who became Caravaggisti (including Ribera) took the use of contrasting light/darkness to a steroidal extreme, the clearest example being the works by Battistello Caracciolo (d. 1635).
But Ribera stands out, for me, for one of the most revolutionary works in Baroque painting: his 1631 life-size portrait of "The Bearded Lady"; or, more formally titled "Magdalena Ventura with Her Husband and Son," in the collection of El Museo FundaciĆ³n Lerma, housed in the Hospital de Tavera, Toledo, Spain.
Ribera dropped the mic after that one!
Anonymous said…
I have this vague recollection of maybe a Ribera given to LACMA years ago by the Ahmanson Foundation. But since that museum no longer exists, I'm not totally sure.

But the Huntington does appreciate you, Michael.
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