Valencia 1500-1700: Ribera in Naples

During the 1500s and 1600s Valencia prospered thanks to its thriving commercial trade in the Mediterranean. For many merchants and travellers the city was the point of entry before moving on to other parts of Spain. From the 15th century onwards its wealth and cosmopolitan nature were expressed through extensive artistic patronage and it is no coincidence that it was one of the first places where graphic practices associated with Renaissance Italy took hold.

Francisco Ribalta and Pedro de Orrente established the general guidelines for drawing in Valencia in the first half of the 17th century. Their skill at handling wash sets them apart from artists working elsewhere in Spain. From the late 1600s and throughout the following century Valencia produced talented and influential draughtsmen such as Vicente Salvador Gómez, Juan Conchillos and José Camarón who trained at private and official academies of drawing.

José de Ribera deserves special attention owing to his outstanding activity as a draughtsman and printmaker. Although he was born in Játiva (Valencia), he spent most of his career in Naples, where he made drawings in preparation for his paintings and as an independent exercise and a remarkable body of prints.