Čís. položky 45


Jusepe de Ribera


Jusepe de Ribera - Obrazy starých mistrů

(Játiva 1591–1652 Naples)
Christ and the Demon,
oil on canvas, 89 x 114.5 cm, framed

Provenance:
sale, Christie’s, Milan, 22 May 2007, lot 84 (as Follower of/Seguace di Pietro Novelli, il Monrealese);
Private European collection

Literature:
N. Spinosa, Ribera. La obra completa, Madrid 2008, p. 305, illustrated p. 306 (as Jusepe de Ribera);
N. Spinosa, Los últimos descubrimientos, in: Ars magazine: revista de arte y coleccionismo, no. 1, Madrid 2008, pp. 107-109, ill. (as Jusepe de Ribera);
M. Carignani di Novoli, Dall’ombra alla luce. Le committenze di Mario Farnese fra Caravaggio e Ribera; Virginio Cesarini e Ribera, Naples 2013, pp. 56-57, ill. (as Jusepe de Ribera)

We are grateful to Nicola Spinosa for his help in cataloguing this lot.

The scene in the present painting is present at night and is striking for its willful overall sparseness. Indeed, almost nothing is left of the landscape except the trunk of an old tree on the right. Only two figures emerge out of the shadows: Christ, rendered with pale and emaciated features, with half closed eyes owing to his weakness from fasting and his great effort of concentration not to succumb to the flattery of his tempter. This work is characterised by its ample and compact use of prevalently dark colour, and by the great realism of the protagonists.

The subject depicted in the painting is unusual and only a few early seventeenth century examples are known. It is taken from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (4: 1-18, 35) which recites: ‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said: ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’. Jesus answered him: ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’’. In contrast to the words given in the Gospel, the demon does not hold stones as is written in the scripture, but loaves of bread. Has Christ therefore turned the stones into bread to demonstrate his power to do so, but then holds back from taking food, thereby resisting the pains of hunger after forty days of fasting?

The painting under discussion is an important new addition to the corpus of rare works from the earliest Roman activity of Jusepe de Ribera. Before 1611, when Ribera is documented in Parma, almost nothing of his work is known, and the subject is still an important focus of study and research. Due to the rediscovery of certain early works, among which the present painting is an example, Ribera has emerged as an influential figure in Rome in the years immediately following Caravaggio’s departure from the city in 1606.

Stylistically Christ and the Demon can be compared to the known works of Ribera datable to the years between the first and the second decades of the century. This canvas, which can be dated to about 1610–1611, can be compared to the series of half-length Apostles that can in part be reconstructed. These works were previously given to the so-called Master of the Judgement of Solomon, but have since been reattributed to Ribera (see G. Papi, Ribera a Roma, Soncino 2007, pp. 129-132, pl. I-IIIb). Of this first series of Apostles, now divided among various public and private collections, it is possible to compare the Saint John the Evangelist in the Louvre, Paris (inv. no. RF 2012 8); the Saint Matthew in a Parisian private collection; the Saint Thomas in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; the Saint James Minor formerly in the Néger collection, then with Galerie Caylus, Paris. The Christ blessing that completed this series of Apostles can be identified in the painting now in the church in Nivillac, Brittany. This group of works, that therefore belonged to a very early moment of the painter’s sojourn in Rome, is characterised by its fluid handling of the media, whereby brushstrokes appear soft and tight. Ribera’s Salome with the head of Saint John the Baptist which also dates to about 1611, in contrast to the Apostles, is characterised by its highly decorative appearance (see Sotheby’s, New York, 31 January 2019, lot 57).

The physiognomic resemblances between the Nivillac Christ and the same figure in the present painting are notable. The same comparison can be made for the features of the Christ with the Samaritan woman (private collection, Paris) and with the Resurrection of Lazarus in the Museo del Prado.

Throughout Ribera’s work, but especially during his so-called Roman period, it is possible to recognise the recurrence of certain facial types, thereby implying that the painter often used the same models, to create actual ‘portraits from life’. That Ribera painted with the actual model before him can also be discerned from the strong characterisation and extraordinary introspection expressed in the features of his subjects.It has been suggested that for the features of Christ and the demon in the present painting, in fact are likenesses of two important members of Rome’s cultural elite: Don Virginio Cesarini (1595–1624) and Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657). This notion, which in Nicola Spinosa’s opinion is not convincing, would post-date the painting to between 1620 and 1622, that is to the period when Cesarini and dal Pozzo were in contact over the latter’s admission to the Accademia dei Lincei. (see M. Carignani di Novoli, Ibid., 2013, pp. 53–62)
However, it cannot be excluded that the two men did not meet at the start of the second decade, ten years earlier (see Spinosa 2008, p. 109, note 4).

A native of Játiva in Spain, as a youth Jusepe de Ribera may have initially trained in the studio of Francesco Ribalta. This information can neither be confirmed nor dismissed, because as mentioned earlier, little is known of the artist’s activities before his presence in Parma where his first Italian painting is documented, the Saint Martin and the pauper for the church of San Prospero (now lost). The fact of having received such an important commission – perhaps through the protection of Mario Farnese – presupposes that the artist had arrived in Italy earlier and had been able to create a reputation for himself as a painter. We know from Giulio Mancini for example, that the marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani owned thirteen paintings by Ribera (his largest single-artist nucleus of paintings alongside those of Caravaggio) and that they all furnished a single room of the nobleman’s palace. Attracted by the fame of the greatest Italian artists, and perhaps finding support from a relation or family friend, it is therefore likely that Ribera arrived in Italy around 1608 or 1609, most likely alighting in Rome to complete his training with the direct study of the great Italian masters, only accessible there. Recent studies have even anticipated the Spaniard’s arrival in Italy to 1606 (see G. Porzio, A. D’Alessandro, Ribera between Rome and Naples: new documentary evidence, in: The Burlington magazine, 157, 2015, pp. 682-683). Following his sojourn in Emilia, Ribera returned to Rome where he remained until 1616 when he moved definitively to Naples. In the Eternal City the artist steered his choices with absolute certainty toward a realist style, thanks especially to his direct knowledge of the works of Caravaggio and his immediate circle of followers in Rome, among whom were various northern painters and especially those French and Flemish artists who elaborated on the example of the Lombard master. Ribera’s works however, reveal an originality and an approach both to his subjects and his representation of space, that are entirely new in comparison to Michelangelo Merisi.

On the back of the present painting partially visible through the lining canvas there are traces of an inscription ‘A. [S.?]’ which may suggest that the present painting was seen by the Segnatura Apostolica, the highest ecclesiastical tribunal of the Holy See.

Technical analysis by Gianluca Poldi:

The work is painted over an off-white ground, seen by optical microscopy. Small changes can be seen in the composition by IR reflectography (IRR) and transmitted IR (TIR), such as the profile of Satan’s back, that was more hunched over, and the head of Christ, which was a little wider above the nape of the neck. IRR allows to read the structure of the folds of Christ’s dark mantle, which contains a black pigment, as well as a blue one, probably indigo, particularly in the lighter folds, as spectroscopies and false colour IR suggest.

An uppercase letter “A” can be read by TIR behind the original canvas, now lined.
The palette used is simple, brown ochre and earths are used, mixed with lead white and black, in Christ’s robe, in the demon’s cloak and in the tree trunk on the right. Flesh tones are obtained mixing vermillion, brown ochre and earths, and sparse grains of green earth, to lead white. Vermillion is also used in the black-brown background, together with black. The peculiar green hue of Christ’s robe also contains green earth together with brown iron oxides, black and vermillion.

Expert: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

oldmasters@dorotheum.com

10.11.2021 - 16:00

Odhadní cena:
EUR 400.000,- do EUR 600.000,-

Jusepe de Ribera


(Játiva 1591–1652 Naples)
Christ and the Demon,
oil on canvas, 89 x 114.5 cm, framed

Provenance:
sale, Christie’s, Milan, 22 May 2007, lot 84 (as Follower of/Seguace di Pietro Novelli, il Monrealese);
Private European collection

Literature:
N. Spinosa, Ribera. La obra completa, Madrid 2008, p. 305, illustrated p. 306 (as Jusepe de Ribera);
N. Spinosa, Los últimos descubrimientos, in: Ars magazine: revista de arte y coleccionismo, no. 1, Madrid 2008, pp. 107-109, ill. (as Jusepe de Ribera);
M. Carignani di Novoli, Dall’ombra alla luce. Le committenze di Mario Farnese fra Caravaggio e Ribera; Virginio Cesarini e Ribera, Naples 2013, pp. 56-57, ill. (as Jusepe de Ribera)

We are grateful to Nicola Spinosa for his help in cataloguing this lot.

The scene in the present painting is present at night and is striking for its willful overall sparseness. Indeed, almost nothing is left of the landscape except the trunk of an old tree on the right. Only two figures emerge out of the shadows: Christ, rendered with pale and emaciated features, with half closed eyes owing to his weakness from fasting and his great effort of concentration not to succumb to the flattery of his tempter. This work is characterised by its ample and compact use of prevalently dark colour, and by the great realism of the protagonists.

The subject depicted in the painting is unusual and only a few early seventeenth century examples are known. It is taken from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (4: 1-18, 35) which recites: ‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said: ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’. Jesus answered him: ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’’. In contrast to the words given in the Gospel, the demon does not hold stones as is written in the scripture, but loaves of bread. Has Christ therefore turned the stones into bread to demonstrate his power to do so, but then holds back from taking food, thereby resisting the pains of hunger after forty days of fasting?

The painting under discussion is an important new addition to the corpus of rare works from the earliest Roman activity of Jusepe de Ribera. Before 1611, when Ribera is documented in Parma, almost nothing of his work is known, and the subject is still an important focus of study and research. Due to the rediscovery of certain early works, among which the present painting is an example, Ribera has emerged as an influential figure in Rome in the years immediately following Caravaggio’s departure from the city in 1606.

Stylistically Christ and the Demon can be compared to the known works of Ribera datable to the years between the first and the second decades of the century. This canvas, which can be dated to about 1610–1611, can be compared to the series of half-length Apostles that can in part be reconstructed. These works were previously given to the so-called Master of the Judgement of Solomon, but have since been reattributed to Ribera (see G. Papi, Ribera a Roma, Soncino 2007, pp. 129-132, pl. I-IIIb). Of this first series of Apostles, now divided among various public and private collections, it is possible to compare the Saint John the Evangelist in the Louvre, Paris (inv. no. RF 2012 8); the Saint Matthew in a Parisian private collection; the Saint Thomas in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; the Saint James Minor formerly in the Néger collection, then with Galerie Caylus, Paris. The Christ blessing that completed this series of Apostles can be identified in the painting now in the church in Nivillac, Brittany. This group of works, that therefore belonged to a very early moment of the painter’s sojourn in Rome, is characterised by its fluid handling of the media, whereby brushstrokes appear soft and tight. Ribera’s Salome with the head of Saint John the Baptist which also dates to about 1611, in contrast to the Apostles, is characterised by its highly decorative appearance (see Sotheby’s, New York, 31 January 2019, lot 57).

The physiognomic resemblances between the Nivillac Christ and the same figure in the present painting are notable. The same comparison can be made for the features of the Christ with the Samaritan woman (private collection, Paris) and with the Resurrection of Lazarus in the Museo del Prado.

Throughout Ribera’s work, but especially during his so-called Roman period, it is possible to recognise the recurrence of certain facial types, thereby implying that the painter often used the same models, to create actual ‘portraits from life’. That Ribera painted with the actual model before him can also be discerned from the strong characterisation and extraordinary introspection expressed in the features of his subjects.It has been suggested that for the features of Christ and the demon in the present painting, in fact are likenesses of two important members of Rome’s cultural elite: Don Virginio Cesarini (1595–1624) and Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657). This notion, which in Nicola Spinosa’s opinion is not convincing, would post-date the painting to between 1620 and 1622, that is to the period when Cesarini and dal Pozzo were in contact over the latter’s admission to the Accademia dei Lincei. (see M. Carignani di Novoli, Ibid., 2013, pp. 53–62)
However, it cannot be excluded that the two men did not meet at the start of the second decade, ten years earlier (see Spinosa 2008, p. 109, note 4).

A native of Játiva in Spain, as a youth Jusepe de Ribera may have initially trained in the studio of Francesco Ribalta. This information can neither be confirmed nor dismissed, because as mentioned earlier, little is known of the artist’s activities before his presence in Parma where his first Italian painting is documented, the Saint Martin and the pauper for the church of San Prospero (now lost). The fact of having received such an important commission – perhaps through the protection of Mario Farnese – presupposes that the artist had arrived in Italy earlier and had been able to create a reputation for himself as a painter. We know from Giulio Mancini for example, that the marquis Vincenzo Giustiniani owned thirteen paintings by Ribera (his largest single-artist nucleus of paintings alongside those of Caravaggio) and that they all furnished a single room of the nobleman’s palace. Attracted by the fame of the greatest Italian artists, and perhaps finding support from a relation or family friend, it is therefore likely that Ribera arrived in Italy around 1608 or 1609, most likely alighting in Rome to complete his training with the direct study of the great Italian masters, only accessible there. Recent studies have even anticipated the Spaniard’s arrival in Italy to 1606 (see G. Porzio, A. D’Alessandro, Ribera between Rome and Naples: new documentary evidence, in: The Burlington magazine, 157, 2015, pp. 682-683). Following his sojourn in Emilia, Ribera returned to Rome where he remained until 1616 when he moved definitively to Naples. In the Eternal City the artist steered his choices with absolute certainty toward a realist style, thanks especially to his direct knowledge of the works of Caravaggio and his immediate circle of followers in Rome, among whom were various northern painters and especially those French and Flemish artists who elaborated on the example of the Lombard master. Ribera’s works however, reveal an originality and an approach both to his subjects and his representation of space, that are entirely new in comparison to Michelangelo Merisi.

On the back of the present painting partially visible through the lining canvas there are traces of an inscription ‘A. [S.?]’ which may suggest that the present painting was seen by the Segnatura Apostolica, the highest ecclesiastical tribunal of the Holy See.

Technical analysis by Gianluca Poldi:

The work is painted over an off-white ground, seen by optical microscopy. Small changes can be seen in the composition by IR reflectography (IRR) and transmitted IR (TIR), such as the profile of Satan’s back, that was more hunched over, and the head of Christ, which was a little wider above the nape of the neck. IRR allows to read the structure of the folds of Christ’s dark mantle, which contains a black pigment, as well as a blue one, probably indigo, particularly in the lighter folds, as spectroscopies and false colour IR suggest.

An uppercase letter “A” can be read by TIR behind the original canvas, now lined.
The palette used is simple, brown ochre and earths are used, mixed with lead white and black, in Christ’s robe, in the demon’s cloak and in the tree trunk on the right. Flesh tones are obtained mixing vermillion, brown ochre and earths, and sparse grains of green earth, to lead white. Vermillion is also used in the black-brown background, together with black. The peculiar green hue of Christ’s robe also contains green earth together with brown iron oxides, black and vermillion.

Expert: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

oldmasters@dorotheum.com


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Aukce: Obrazy starých mistrů
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Datum: 10.11.2021 - 16:00
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