Jusepe de RIBERA (Játiva, Spain 1591—Naples, Italy 1652)
Portrait of a Knight of Santiago, (Retrato de un caballero de la orden Santiago), mid 1630s
Oil on canvas (óleo sobre lienzo)
Algur H. Meadows Collection, 77.02
This autograph portrait depicts an as yet unidentified sitter of prominence. The sword in the man’s left hand, and the baton in his right, identify him as a Captain General in the Spanish army; the red sash was worn by Spanish partisans of the Thirty Years War. Around the sitter’s neck hangs a shell-shaped pendant featuring a red cross, worn by knights of the Order of Santiago.
Ribera engaged in portraiture very infrequently; only from 1638 onward did the painter create a small body of work in the genre. Stylistically, this canvas seems to correspond to Ribera’s work from the latter half of the 1630s. The sumptuous vermilion sash and its dazzling highlights parallel those of the swathe of drapery visible in the Assumption of the Magdalene (1636) on view in this gallery, marking the beginning of a period defined by a more vibrant and complex palette. This dating corresponds to the viceroyship of Manuel de Acevedo y Zuńiga, Sixth Count of Monterrey and Viceroy of Naples from 1631 to 1637, the figure whom this sitter has been suggested to represent. A member of the Order of Santiago, the Count of Monterrey was an important patron of Ribera who may have commissioned the Assumption of the Magdalene for a convent in Salamanca, Spain. However, the sitter’s facial features do not readily conform to those presented in a seventeenth-century sculpture by Giuliano Finelli at the Salamancan convent.
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