Following the steps of José de Ribera, a Valencian who changed the history of art

Following the steps of José de Ribera, a Valencian who changed the history of art

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Leaving aside its Mediterranean breeze, the fireworks, it’s impressive ‘ninots’, the beautiful ‘falleras’ and truly rich paella – the only one like it in the world – Valencia is a place that has given refuge to a large number of artists who knew just how to spread its legacy throughout the world.

The land of singers with truly impressive vocal chords (like Francisco or the eternal Nino Bravo) and of high quality cinema actors (like Ana Duato or Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Valencia is also the cradle of important international painters and sculptors who have strengthened the concept of art. From that large list of influential figures and disciplines, the name that shines out is that of José de Ribera, one of the most important baroque painters in the world.

The respect and admiration that the Valencians feel for this emblematic and much needed artist can be felt in the Monument to José de Ribera. An imposing bronze sculpture located in the Plaça del Poeta Llorente (about 15 minutes on foot from the Petit Palace Bristol hotel and Petit Palace Germanías) that was erected in the city in 1888.

The life and work of the “Españoleto”

Known by everyone as the Spaniard “El Españoleto” (because of his origins), José de Ribera grew up and lived in Xátiva, a beautiful town located in the southern part of the province where the artist spent his tender childhood years. Although his city always remained alive in his memory, Ribera left his hometown aged 19 to visit Italy, a country that would become his new place of residence.

Although Naples would end up being part of his existence, the Valencian – who felt the call of art in his adolescence – would travel through various parts of Italy. A journey that would lead him to encounter works and artists of the standard of Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio; names that – in one form or another – would end up influencing his particular way of painting.

A gloomy and intriguing style

While admiring and studying the work of Jose de Ribera, a lot of people would point to influences that are clearly Italian. Certainly the religious themes (of virgins and apostles, miracles and martyrdom) chosen throughout the work of the Valencian artist are the most direct link with his country of origin (our country).

The colours in his pictures and engravings (of which there were many) are dark, gloomy and intriguing; three notes that combined perfectly with the tendency to brown (almost black) robes and elongated features that would mark a turning point in the Spanish and Italian baroque style.


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