Jacob's Dream

José de Ribera, who was known as “El Españoleto”, or the Little Spaniard”, moved to Italy when he was very young, in order to train. He went to Naples which, at that time, was one of the Kingdoms of Spain, under the protection of a Viceroy. Ribera settled and was to spend the rest of his life there.

Much influenced by the Realism and Tenebrism of Caravaggio, Ribera became a magnificent draughtsman and engraver. His works are true studies of human anatomical drawing, even in the most complicated or foreshortened positions in which he places his figures. His painting evolved towards a more naturalistic and luminous style, as we can see in this picture, Jacob’s Dream, which is Ribera’s masterpiece.

The painter has given us the most beautiful and perfect depiction of the dream. While stopping to rest on the road, Jacob has fallen asleep and is having a vision, shown on the bright background of the painting, where angels can be seen ascending and descending from Heaven. If you look closely at the scene for a minute or two, you will see them. The vision is painted in golden shades that cannot be seen at first. The work has a very harmonious composition: the tree trunk, for instance, creates a diagonal line to counter the body of Jacob. On the stone in the right hand lower corner, an inscription reads: “Jusepe de Ribera, Español. 1639”

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns