Cover image for Ribera’s Repetitions: Paper and Canvas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Naples By Todd P. Olson

Ribera’s Repetitions

Paper and Canvas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Naples

Todd P. Olson

Coming in December

$104.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09754-1
Coming in December

264 pages
8" × 10"
34 color/63 b&w illustrations
2025

Ribera’s Repetitions

Paper and Canvas in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Naples

Todd P. Olson

“Todd Olson carefully considers the diverse contexts for Ribera's artistic practice, such as empire-building, materiality, and myth, and thus assesses the complexity of Ribera’s creativity through the lenses of repetition, rotation, and experimentation. This novel, interdisciplinary study reexamines the originality of Ribera’s praxis as engaged in a visual culture shaped by science, history, and belief in early modern Naples.”

 

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The seventeenth-century Valencian artist Jusepe de Ribera spent most of his career in Spanish Viceregal Naples, where he was known as “Lo Spagnoletto,” or “the Little Spaniard.” Working under the patronage of Spanish viceroys, Ribera held a special position bridging two worlds. In Ribera’s Repetitions, art historian Todd P. Olson sheds new light on the complexity of Ribera’s artwork and artistic methods and their connections to the Spanish imperial project.

Drawing from a diverse range of sources, including poetry, literature, natural history, philosophy, and political history, Olson presents Ribera’s work in a broad context. He examines how Ribera’s techniques, including rotation, material decay (through etching), and repetition, influenced the artist’s drawings and paintings. Many of Ribera’s works featured scenes of physical suffering—from Saint Jerome’s corroded skin and the flayed bodies of Saint Bartholomew and Marsyas to the ragged beggar-philosophers and the eviscerated Tityus. But far from being the result of an individual sadistic predilection, Olson argues, Ribera’s art was inflected by the legacies of the Reconquest of Spain and Neapolitan coloniality. Ribera’s material processes and themes were not hermetically sealed in the studio; rather, they were engaged in the global Spanish Empire.

Pathbreaking and deeply interdisciplinary, this copiously illustrated book offers art history students and scholars a means to see Ribera’s art anew.

“Todd Olson carefully considers the diverse contexts for Ribera's artistic practice, such as empire-building, materiality, and myth, and thus assesses the complexity of Ribera’s creativity through the lenses of repetition, rotation, and experimentation. This novel, interdisciplinary study reexamines the originality of Ribera’s praxis as engaged in a visual culture shaped by science, history, and belief in early modern Naples.”

Todd P. Olson is Professor of Early Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Poussin and France: Painting, Humanism and the Politics of Style and Caravaggio’s Pitiful Relics.