Born in Valencia, Ribera travelled to Italy as a young man and his presence is recorded there in 1611, the year in which he is paid for an altarpiece in Parma. A document dated 27 October 1613 notes Ribera's admittance to the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, suggesting that he had already completed a number of commissions by this date. In April 1615 and March 1616 he is recorded as living in a house with other painters in via Margutta and the recent discovery of a document dated 5 June 1612 indicates that Ribera was in Rome much earlier than had previously been thought.2 The document describes the artist asking his landlord for authorisation to make a window in the roof of his studio; a single overhead light source was a lesson that he and other artists had learnt from Caravaggio and can clearly be discerned in the present work. Ribera was still in Rome in May 1616 but moved to Naples in the summer of that year. It was in that city that his reputation grew, both within Italy and abroad, and although he lived and worked in Naples he received numerous commissions from Spain through the intercession of Spanish painters and dignitaries.3
Following first-hand inspection, the attribution was endorsed by Professor Nicola Spinosa, author of the catalogue raisonné dedicated to the artist.
1 N. Spinosa, Ribera, la obra completa, Madrid 2008, p. 340, cat. no. A67, and pp. 349–50, cat. no. A79, respectively, both reproduced.
2 S. Danesi Squarzina, 'New documents on Ribera, 'pictor in Urbe', 1612–16, The Burlington Magazine, vol. CXLVIII, no. 1237, April 2006, pp. 244–51.
3 Jusepe Martínez visited Ribera in Naples in 1625, as did Diego Velázquez five years later.
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