Jusepe de Ribera
Oil on canvas
Although he worked in Italy as a painter and printmaker, Jusepe de Ribera was a native Spaniard, nicknamed “Lo Spagnoletto” (the Little Spaniard). As an artist in training, he was especially drawn to the work of Coreggio and Caravaggio, and his early work exhibits many “Carivaggesque” qualities. Later in life, Ribera experimented with a softer, more classical style. The Immaculate Conception, the moment when the Virgin Mary is impregnated with Christ without sin, predates the official belief in this event by over two hundred years. This subject was still popular in Baroque art, however. The Baroque era, when the Catholic Church was concerned with leading its followers away from the teachings of the Protestant Reformation, saw a rise in popularity of more fantastical, emotional subjects in art. It’s fitting, then, that the almost magical quality of the Immaculate Conception scene would be favored over the understated Annunciation paintings of the Renaissance.