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Jusepe de Ribera
(Játiva, Spain, 1591 - 1652, Naples, Italy)
Jusepe Ribera, a Spaniard who settled in Naples in the 1620s, earned a reputation as one of the foremost painters of realism in the seventeenth century with his images of saints at the moment of revelation or in the act of being martyred. His accomplishments as an etcher are less well known but no less brilliant. Although he produced only eighteen etchings throughout his career, Ribera extended to printmaking the new Baroque naturalism introduced by Caravaggio in painting.
Most of Ribera's etchings are represented in the Blanton's collection. His engagement with etching in the 1620s signals the shift of printmaking from the exclusive realm of the craftsman to a form of expression available to all artists.
It is unknown how many impressions Ribera pulled from his plates, but the number is thought to be low since many of the prints were foremost exercises undertaken to satisfy his own curiosity. Even before Ribera's death, publishers in Rome and Antwerp purchased some of the plates from the artist or his family and printed new editions. Some publishers retouched worn plates. Other plates were printed so often that they simply wore out. Fellow Neopolitans Filippo Liagno, Salvator Rosa, and Luca Giordano, who were familiar with Ribera's work, admired and emulated both his technical skill and his brutal realism. The remarkable personality of Ribera's subjects and his facility with the etching needle distinguish him as an absolute master of the medium.