BIENNALE INTERNAZIONALE DELL'ANTIQUARIATO DI FIRENZE : XXXI edition
Saint Peter (pair with Saint Paul)
oil on canvas
75 x 63 cm
29 1/2 x 24 3/4 inch
29 1/2 x 24 3/4 inch
The two unparalleled canvases, which show the elderly saints Peter and Paul, evince the marvellous talents of Luca Giordano: the figures, both characterized by sever expressions, emerge from the darkness of the background through a delicate light. The artworks reflect the influence that Jusepe de Ribera had on Luca Giordano, evoking several old saints and anchorites depicted by Ribera (figs. 1 -3), which played a pivotal role within the Neapolitan artistic landscape during the XVII century. Jusepe de Ribera - called Spagnoletto since he was a native of Játiva, near Valencia - developed, starting from the early 1620s, a language marked by a strong naturalistic style with dense brushwork and heavy contrasts between light and shadow. His style is furthermore enhanced by the careful definition of emotional and psychological features. However, the ‘tremendous’ pictorial mixture that distinguishes the Valencian master is mitigated by the hand of Luca Giordano: this specific element reveals the modus operandi of the young pupil at the beginning of 1660s. “Di Ribera, il giovane napoletano seppe cogliere, in particolare, le notevoli potenzialità insite soprattutto negli esempi del maestro spagnolo successivi al 1634-35, quando quest’ultimo seppe accrescere le precedenti esperienze di matrice caravakggesca in chiave di vigoroso e spesso rigoroso naturalismo […]” (N. Spinoso, Luca Giordano, da Napoli a Madrid e ritorno, in Luca Giordano. L’immagine come illusione, Napoli 2004, p. 35). The incessant references to Ribera are attested - in some cases - by imitations and replica of Jusepe de Ribera’s paintings, such as the series of Philosophers of Antiquity: the first corpus of artworks, in fact, discloses the same stylistic shapes of the two canvases under consideration. The countless portrayals of saints, apostles, scientists and philosophers by Luca Giordano could generate a heterogeneous and sophisticated gallery of images of their own; therefore, comparisons between the two canvases and the representation of Socrates (already owned by Robilant+Voena, fig. 4) or the St. Francis in prayer (property of a Neapolitan private collection, fig. 5) are inevitable. As a matter of fact, even though these paintings have been realized at the beginning of the 1660s, they still unveil the ‘manner of Ribera’ in order to please the requests of numerous clients.