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Title: Naturalism and the picaresque in Jusepe de Ribera's work
Author: Avilio, Carlo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 6207
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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Although it was an era of extraordinary scientific progress and fertile methodological debate, the seventeenth century was characterized by a profound vein of scepticism that can be traced throughout its literary, scientific and philosophical works. Upon his arrival in Italy, the Spanish painter Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652), one of the most innovative interpreters of Caravaggio’s painting in Europe, wittily thematized, through his series of the Senses (c.1612-1616), the aspirations, achievements and doubts of his age with regard to man’s sensorial experiences and the possibility of investigating and comprehending the functioning of the senses. Scholars have singled out both the allusions within Ribera’s paintings to scientific experimentalism and their affinity with the themes which characterised contemporary Spanish picaresque literature. However, neither the ‘picaresque vein’ nor the scientific factors in question have been analysed per se, or indeed been examined comparatively. In this regard, my main contention is that, by juxtaposing the tools of the new science with low-genre props, the Senses series clearly alludes to contemporary discussions about the function and reliability of sensory perception, a theme which was then of the utmost importance. By staging the equivalent of the pícaro, the shabby protagonist of numerous novels who has to constantly struggle for his existence and who is both assisted and misled by his senses, Ribera’s series parodies not only the experimental method which had been established by the Roman and Neapolitan members of the Accademia dei Lincei, but also Galileo’s contributions to the debate. By the same token, his connection with picaresque literature is often reduced to Ribera’s predilection for plebeian models and his propensity to represent high subject matters with ordinary figures and accessories. The main goal of this thesis is to offer a new interpretation of Ribera’s naturalism and its interconnections with the picaresque novel, as developed not only in Spain but also in Spanish Naples. My contention is, in fact, that these two aspects of Ribera’s art are not only inextricably connected, but are also specifically rooted in early seventeenth-century Roman and Neapolitan culture and society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: ND Painting