Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown
Jusepe de Ribera

Saint Joseph

Artist

Jusepe de Ribera
Játiva, Spain, 1591 – Naples 1652

Title

Saint Joseph

Date

About 1635

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

71.8 x 61.9 cm

Credits

William J. Morrice Bequest, inv. 1943.815

Collection

Western Art

Born in Spain, Ribera spends his entire active career in Italy. He arrives in Spanish-ruled Naples between 1607 and 1614. Caravaggio’s presence profoundly impacted the Neapolitan school of painting. He then travelled to Parma, Rome, before settling in Naples. His works found critical appreciation and a ready market there, and he became a protégé of the Spanish viceroy, the Duke of Osuna. Caravaggio’s tenebrism and realism profoundly influenced the artist’s painting style. Ribera distinguishes himself from other Caravaggesque artists by his use of chiaroscuro (light-to-dark) contrast less to create theatrically dramatic scenes than a mysterious, spiritual context while maintaining a sober calm and balance in his compositions. This painting is typical of his devotional images presented in the Apostolado format (series of portraits of the twelve apostles) that had been developed earlier in Flanders and Spain. It infuses a remarkably spontaneous and portrait-like character to the subject: Saint Joseph, Mary’s husband, is shown as an elderly man holding a flowering branch. According to legend, when Joseph, among the Virgin’s suitors, placed a branch upon the altar, it burst into bloom. The entire focus of Ribera’s work is on the moving expression of the subject, who conveys wonder and gratitude for the miracle.

A touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation