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Painting Title Ribera and his Family
Alternative Title Ribera and his Daughters; Spagnoletto and his Daughters
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Weiser, Bernard Pieter (Belgian painter, born 1822)
Date 1861 (dated)
Signed yes

The artist, seated at his easel, is painting two women; through the window is a view across the bay of Naples to Vesuvius. José de Ribera (1591-1652) was a Spanish 'tenebrist' painter and printmaker, better known as Jusepe de Ribera or Giuseppe Ribera; he also was called Lo Spagnoletto ("the Little Spaniard"). Ribera was born in Spain, but was living in Rome no later than 1612, where he joined the Academy of Saint Luke and certainly associated with other Caravaggisti. He moved to Naples, where in 1616 he married Caterina Azzolino, the daughter of a Sicilian-born Neapolitan painter, Giovanni Bernardino Azzolino. Ribera's daughter Margarita was born in 1630; about 1644 she married judge of the Tribunale della Vicaría named Giovanni Leonardo Sersale, who died in 1651. His second daughter, Anna Louisa, was born in 1631, and his third daugter, Maria Francesca, in 1636.

It is possible that the scene of this 19th century painting is set in about 1647, when de Ribera was 56, Margarita was 17 (and married for three years, so her head is covered), and Maria was 11 (she is wearing a wreath of flowers in her hair, which indicates that it all happens before her legendary affair with Don Juan of Austria). In fact smoking Vesuvius may also suggest that date, as the tumults in Naples of 1647, which were the reason for Don Juan's entrance to the city, were promptly compared to a volcanic eruption by local historians.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 159
Inscription front cl ‘B. Weiser 1861’
Subject figure, history (Jusepe de Ribera painting his family)
Measurements 35.6 x 46.9 cm
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by John Burton 1882.
Provenance Crystal Palace Picture Gallery, London, 1864 as 'Spagnoletto and his Daughters'.
Publications Howarth, E., Catalogue of Pictures in the Permanent Collection, York, 1907, cat. 92, p. 36; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. III: English and European 19th and 20th centuries, The Reserve Collection, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1974, pp. 89-90; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 358 as Ribera and his Family.

According to the York Art Gallery Catalogue of 1974, despite the traditional title, '-Ribera and his Daughters', it was suggested that Ribera is in fact shown painting his wife and daughter, who had been frequently identified as his models. It is possible, judging from the notes preserved in the York Museum archives, that this assumption was based on the false information that de Ribera had only one daughter. But the fact is that in 1864 the painting (completed only 3 years earlier) was exhibited in Crystal Palace Picture Gallery in London as 'Spagnoletto and his Daughters'. We must remember that Ribera's wife, Caterina Azzolino, was born in 1601, so she was 10 years younger than her husband, while in the Weise's painting the age difference seems to be much greater. It is more likely that the painting in fact shows Ribera and his daughters Margarita and Maria.

John Burton (1799-1882) was a horse dealer and farmer; he created a collection of paintings (mainly Victorian) in his villa in Poppleton, Yorkshire. He had been on the organising committees for the 1866 and 1879 exhibitions in York and decided to leave his collection to the citizens of York rather than his first choice, the National Gallery (he was persuaded to change his will a month prior to his death). The Burton Bequest of 127 pictures founded the York Gallery's permanent collection.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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