Between Heaven and Hell: The Drawings of Jusepe Rivera
The Meadows and the Prado have joined forces to publish and promote the first “catalogue raisonné” of the Baroque master’s drawings.
Jusepe de Ribera, born in Valencia in 1591, was both an extraordinary painter and a prolific graphic artist; it is the strength of his works on paper, in addition to his paintings, that sets Ribera apart from his Caravaggist contemporaries.
Between Heaven and Hell celebrates the joint publication by the Museo del Prado and the Meadows Museum of the first catalogue raisonné of the artist’s drawings. On view will be a total of 47 drawings (nearly a third of the artist’s surviving output), 12 prints, 11 paintings, and one relief sculpture. The project is the first major monographic exhibition on the artist in the U.S. in the last 25 years, and and the most comprehensive one ever dedicated to his drawings.
Drawing played a central role in the art of Ribera. He spent most of his career in Naples where he significantly influenced the course of artistic production in the seventeenth century. Although little is known of his youth, training, and journey from Spain to Italy, Ribera is recorded in Rome in 1606, in Parma in 1611, and in Naples from 1616 until his death in 1652. After arriving in Italy, Ribera encountered the revolutionary paintings of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), whose distinctive qualities Ribera adopted in his own work, prompting him to be recognized as a Caravaggesque artist.
Yet unlike Caravaggio, who famously did not make drawings on paper, Ribera was both an extraordinary painter and a prolific graphic artist. He produced a remarkable corpus of drawings as well as an important group of prints, and it is the strength of his works on paper –in addition to his paintings– that sets Ribera apart from his Caravaggist contemporaries.
Sheets by Ribera are widely dispersed in public and private collections throughout the world. This exhibition showcases highlights by Ribera from collections in Canada, France, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Drawings are displayed in the context of related paintings and prints, and the exhibition is organized not chronologically but thematically in order to create striking juxtapositions between works across the trajectory of Ribera’s career.
Between Heaven and Hell celebrates the variety of Ribera’s drawings, the technical skill in his use of pen, ink, and chalk, and the extraordinary originality of his subject matter, spanning anatomical figure studies and lively street scenes, to capricious subjects and scenes of martyrdom and torture.
Curated by Dr. Finaldi at the Prado venue and Dr. Payne at the Meadows venue, the project represents a continuation of the longstanding and productive collaboration between the two museums. Between Heaven and Hell: The Drawings of Jusepe de Ribera is the first major monographic exhibition organized on the artist in the United States in the last twenty-five years, and the most comprehensive presentation ever dedicated to the artist’s drawings.