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José de Ribera, 'el Españoleto'

  • José de Ribera, 'el Españoleto' © Kim Castells/Iberfoto

    José de Ribera, 'el Españoleto' © Kim Castells/Iberfoto






Date of birth

Jan 12, 1591

Date of death


" Painter. He was the turning point in the step from the naturalism of the counter-reformation to the full Baroque."

He was born in Xátiva (Valencia) in 1591 as the son of a shoe-maker. There is almost no witness or record of his childhood and early education. From some earl 17th-century Italian sources, it is known that around 1611 he was in the service of the Duke Ranuccio Farnese. It was also in the city of Parma that he was recognised as a considerably gifted painter. As of 1613, he settled in Rome and linked to the Academy of San Lucas, where he became familiar with the paintings of Caravaggio and with naturalism. By 1616 he had been named scholar of Saint Luke and he permanently relocated to Naples, where he married Caterina Azzolino. His first dark counter-reformation period gave way to another more colourful period, influenced by the Venetians Titian and Veronese. He died in Naples in 1652.

Essential works

  • Samson and Delilah. Cordoba Museum of Fine Arts © Ministerio de Cultura

    Samson and Delilah

    The museum's collection of drawings and engravings contains fascinating examples such as this work produced by José de Ribera, also known as El Españoleto, or the little Spaniard.

    Cordoba Museum of Fine Arts (Córdoba)

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  • ‘The Little Spaniard’. ‘Jacob’s Dream’ © Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

    Jacob’s dream

    The achievement of this masterpiece by José de Ribera lies in his skill in depicting a biblical episode with a human and realistic approach.

    Prado Museum (Madrid)

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  • 'Saint James the Elder'. Seville Museum of Fine Arts © Ministerio de Cultura

    Saint James the Elder

    This work is outstanding for the skilled use of light and the strong modelling of the drawing, in which Ribera's mastery of the engraving technique was clearly fundamental.

    Seville Museum of Fine Arts (Seville)

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  • Holy Family. Santa Cruz Museum. Toledo © Ministerio de Cultura

    The Holy Family

    A first-rate work from the Santa Cruz Museum collections in which Ribera displays his use of the tenebrist atmosphere, taken from Caravaggio's art.

    Santa Cruz Museum (Toledo)

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  • 'Saint Sebastian attended by Saint Irene and her handmaiden'. Detail© Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia

    Saint Sebastian attended by Saint Irene and her maid

    This painting by José de Ribera, also known as 'El Españoleto' is one of the museum's most emblematic works. It highlights the artist's mastery in handling their technique of chiaroscuro.

    Valencia Museum of Fine Arts (Valencia)

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Other highlighted works

  • Archimedes
  • The Penitent Magdalene
  • Saint Sebastian cured by holy women
  • Saint Jerome and the angel
  • Drunken Silenus
  • Martyrdom of Saint Andrew
  • Magdalen Ventura with her husband or The Bearded Woman
  • Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
  • Adoration of the Shepherds
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