Democritus. José de Ribera. Oil on canvas, 120 x 90 cm. 1615 - 1616


April 5 to July 31, 2011 – Museo National del Prado

José de Ribera was born in Játiva (Valencia) in 1591 but lived and worked in Parma, Rome and Naples, where he developed a style based on that of Caravaggio. It was during his time in Parma, Rome and his early years in Naples that Ribera studied and rethought the language of naturalism. The exhibition focuses on this period, in which Ribera’s work passed through different stylistic phases and made use of a wide range of subjects, resulting in a profound interaction of style and iconography.

During his time in Rome, Ribera deployed a precise descriptive manner and a use of chiaroscuro to offer innovative depictions of traditional subjects such as the Five Senses, the Apostles, and figures of Philosophers. In Naples, he made use of the same artistic resources to imbue his devotional subjects with a unique sense of intensity, rigour and drama. The exhibition is organised into different sections that group together related works or focus on specific periods during Ribera’s time in Rome and his early years in Naples.

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