Lot 1050. Jusepe de Ribera (1591 Játiva - 1652 Naples), St. Francis of Paola. Oil on canvas (relined). 74.5 x 62 cm. Middle right remains of a signature: J. Old inventory number "51" middle left. Estimate: € 100,000 - € 140,000. © Lempertz
Provenance: Hofrat von Urbantschitsch, Vienna, around 1900 (verso adhesive label). - Auction Helbing, Munich, 4.7.1922. - English private collection.
Literature: Nicola Spinosa: Ribera. L'opera complete. Naples 2006, p. 352, no. A257 m. Illustration
Note: The present painting represents one of two variants of the depiction of St. Francis of Paola, painted by Jusepe de Ribera in 1640 (Spinosa, op. Cit., P. 352). The saint is wrapped in a brown cowl, his eyes are sky high, his eyes are red. In his left hand he holds a page with the inscription "CHARITAS", the motto of his order, with his right hand a staff.
The comparison with the prototype of the other variant (private collection Geneva) shows slight, albeit significant differences. The figure in the Geneva picture is directed more to the right, while the saint is shown in frontal view. Above all, the saint in the picture of Geneva has pulled the hood deep in the face, so that the eyes are shadowed. In the present illustration, however, the hood has slipped backwards by the turn of the head. This allows Ribera to illuminate the saint's face with a bright picture light and exploit those quaint qualities for which he was so valued: with powerful brushstrokes he models the expressive face of the saint, especially the wrinkles on his forehead. Ribera's characteristic chiaroscuro also shows in the design of the right hand,
The replicas and numerous copies of Ribera's portrayals of St. Francis of Paola testify equally to the popularity of the composition as well as the veneration for the saint. St. Francis of Paola was a southern Italian saint who was revered for his austere ascetic life. Born in Paola, Calabria, in the 15th century, he retired to solitude as a teenager and led the life of a hermit. It formed a religious community called Ordo Minimorum, the lesser brothers. 1474 the religious rules were confirmed, 1519 was the canonization.
The painting was created in 1640 at the end of a decade, which can be counted among the most productive in the work of Ribera. He was the leading painter of Naples and received during this time a number of important orders, such as for the Charterhouse of San Martino in Naples and the Buen Retiro in Madrid, for the Duke of Alcala and the Counts of Monterey.