San Pietro penitente (1628-1632)

Ribera, Jusepe de (1591-1652)

San Pietro penitente (Penitent Saint Peter)
Oil on canvas, 126.5 × 97 cm
Art Institute of ChicagoChicago

Emerging from darkness into a blaze of light falling from heaven, Saint Peter’s enraptured upward expression and gesture here suggest a moment of spiritual dialogue as he grapples with his bitter remorse for having denied that he is a follower of Christ. Jusepe de Ribera was born near Valencia, Spain, but worked in Italy, in Rome from about 1612 until 1613, when the influence of the painter Caravaggio was at its height, then in Naples from 1616. In Naples, which was then under Spanish rule, he enjoyed the patronage of successive Spanish viceroys, producing altarpieces and paintings of classical subjects and expressive single figures like the one seen here, so lifelike in their conception that they appear to be portraits of their historical or religious subjects. (AIC)