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Auctions

Antiques & Works of Art

Auction 21 | 27 June, 21H00  
Lot 216

Circle of Jusepe de Ribera, Lo Spagnoletto (1591-1652)

Estimate:

€ 30.000 - 50.000

Hammer Price:

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Description:

Saint Paul
Oil on canvas
17th century
127,5x102,5 cm

Category:

Paintings

Notes:

The Alpoim Calvão collection’s Saint Paul now offered for sale was once attributed to the major tenebrist painter Jusepe de Ribera, however this specific representation is not part of the artist’s list of works. The surprise with this work is bigger once is known that his workshop followed the models created by the master and this specific composition is not part of any work of Ribera’s corpus. In fact the artist represented several times Saint Paul either alongside with the other apostles or as a natural pair for Saint Peter. That happens with the canvas depicting Saint Peter now at the Museu de Arte Antiga, once part of the Demotte Collection, that should be a pair with a Saint Paul similar to the one kept at the Pinacoteca Comunal of Perugia. Unfortunately nothing is known about the history of Alpoim Calvão’s Saint Paul and for that we cannot surely state that it had had a pair, however the position of the figure occupying all the right side of the canvas enables to suspect that this painting would originally be placed against another that was naturally, for their iconography, Saint Peter.

The crudeness of the figure, inspired by a real model, as well as the large drapery are characteristics of the paintings of the Spanish master but they are also the characteristics of all Tenebrism’s paintings that spreaded the Caravaggio models since the first quarter of the 17th century. Today we know that Ribera “was not only one of most important developers and spreader of Caravaggio’s work but also one of its improvers”. Despite everything we said is important to fit this painting on Ribera’s path without forgetting that since the master based at Naples in 1616 he deeply marked the artistic production of the South of Italy that had exhausted the naturalist solutions left by Caravaggio. Painters like Giovan Batista Caracciolo, Filippo Vitale, Aniello Falcone or Paolo Finoglio closely followed Ribera’s production and reproduced his models but also Ribera’s structure of space and compositions.
Deeper studies on this work can reveal new clues and add some knowledge leading to more definitive conclusion. At the actual stage of knowledge we consider this a fine painting that should be included on the creative circle of Ribera and unusual to appear for sale at the Portuguese market.
Anísio Franco