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    Francisco Ribalta: A Spanish Painter Who Changed the Renaissance

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         Francisco Ribalta was a Spanish painter, who has experienced a strong influence on other major masters of the Renaissance. He was born in 1565, that is, at the end of the Late Renaissance, and had the opportunity to get acquainted with the creative heritage of a large number of artists who lived and worked before him.

    It is believed that Francisco Ribalta was one of the first to use the specific technique of chiaroscuro, developed by Caravaggio. After him, a lot of Spaniards began to work in this style, but this direction was noted for the first time in the drawings of Ribalta.

    Not much information is known about the personal life of an artist. He was born in a tailor’s family, in Solson, a small town in Catalonia. When the boy was seven years old, he moved with his family to the present capital of Catalonia – Barcelona. After another nine years, his father passed away, what made the future artist move to Madrid. In the Spanish capital, he studied famous paintings with the famous master – Juan Fernandes Navarett.

    Key Ideas in painting

    In his works, Ribalta relied on the achievements of the greatest artists of his era. In his paintings, the influence of the titan of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci, as well as Jacopo Bassano and Sebastiano del Piombo, is noticeable. Ribalta’s artwork “Saint Luke” is considered his self-portrait. It has a double meaning – the Evangelist Luke was an artist and is the heavenly patron of the painters. Usually, he is portrayed as a deep old man, while at Ribalta’s work, he is a middle-aged man with an expressive face, which, in combination with his characteristic pose, gives reason to suspect a self-portrait in the picture.

    The strong influence of the technique of Caravaggio can be judged from the picture of 1620. The canvas remains the creations of Caravaggio, but only in the manner of handling chiaroscuro. All the figures are immersed in deep, velvety darkness, and only individual details are illuminated. The plot itself is a complete anachronism. These two main characters could not meet in real life, as there are about 1200 years between them. The canvas reflects the moment of spiritual unification of the saint and his God, who is crucified and faithful to his beloved people.

    Paintings made by Francisco Ribalta

    “Cruxifixion” and “The Dream of Saint Joseph”

    In the Hermitage, there is the earliest signed and dated work of the artist, called ” Cruxifixion”. The influence of Italian Mannerism is traced in the broken figures and deliberate gestures. The dramatic nature of events is emphasized by a somber, gloomy color, and sharp cut-off contrasts distinguish the main characters: the half-naked figure of Christ, as well as the backs, hands, ugly faces of his tormentors. Landscape background with a heavy pre-threatening sky indicates the approaching tragedy. Ribalta was one of the first Spanish artists to use the light finds of Caravaggio.


    The Dream of Saint Joseph

    The painting “The Dream of Saint Joseph” depicts St. Joseph is having a dream and the angel taking care of him. All virtues determined Saint Joseph and were truly worth becoming the husband of the Immaculate Virgin Maria. Joseph didn’t know the plans of God, but he was ready to fulfill them. When we look at the drawing, we can see, that St. Joseph will rather wait for an angel from heaven or some miracle, than control his will. Absolute devotion to God’s wish is one of the prominent virtues of St. Joseph.

    The painter died at the age of 63 years. His works of art are in the best museums of the world, including the Hermitage. He is a world-renowned artist, one of the genius painters, the one who made Spanish art famous.

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