The National Museum of Western Art

update 20 March 2014

on display temporarily closed

Jusepe de Ribera [Xàtiva, 1591 - Naples, 1652]

Philosopher Crates

Date1636
Materials/Techniquesoil on canvas
Size (cm)124 x 98.5
InscriptionsSigned, dated and titled lower right: Josephf de Ribera español /.F. 1636 / crate tebano
Credit LinePurchased
Standard ref.Spinosa A216
CategoryPaintings
Collection NumberP.1989-0001

This canvas is one work from a noteworthy series by Ribera, painted primarily in the 1630s, representing the famous philosophers of antiquity. Each image in the series is minutely worked to reveal the philosophy and character of its subject, an approach that would have appealed to the humanists of the day. However, Ribera distanced himself from the traditional iconographic framework for such images, and in spite of the fact that these works were meant to represent wise men, he painted from actual models and rejected all idealization as he created powerful depictions of their actual figures. If the inscription on the lower right of this painting is reliable, this canvas depicts the Theban philosopher Crates. This philospher, a Cynic active around 320 B. C., is known to have been the student of Diogenes and the teacher of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism. Crates abandoned his property to become a mendicant and the author of didactic parodies, tragedies and dramas. Crates is known to have been a kind, wise and fascinating character with an ugly face. However, the man shown here is not particularly ugly in Ribera's philosopher series. This painting is known to have been in the collection of the Prince of Lichtenstein in the mid 18th century, and judging from historical documents, it is surmised to have been one of a series of six works painted for the Prince in 1636-37. Today this series is divided between museums in the west and the NMWA. All six works were gathered for display in 1992 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, held an exhibition on Ribera. That opportunity to view the six works together revealed that there are slight differences in the styles of the six works, and thus it is clear that some of the paintings involved work by Ribera's studio. Of the six works, the NMWA's image of Crates was particularly noteworthy for its powerful, true touch. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no.44)

Provenance

Prinz Karl Eusebius von Liechtenstein, 1637, and his successors, until 1950; Private Coll., since 1950; Galerie Nathan, Zürich; Purchased by the NMWA, 1989.

Exhibition History

1948
Meisterwerke aus den Sammlungen des Fürsten von Liechtenstein, Kunstmuseum Luzern, 1948 - 1948, cat. no. N. A. 1.
1992
Jusepe de Ribera: 1591-1652, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 18 September 1992 - 29 November 1992, cat. no. 39, repr. color.
1997
Resonating Love and Life: European Art from National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Nagaoka, 12 April 1997 - 18 May 1997, cat. no. 2
2000
Tanka at the National Museum of Western Art: An Encounter between Poet and Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 25 July 2000 - 29 October 2000, cat. no. 19

Bibliography

1767
Fanti, Vincenzio. Descrizzione completa di tutto ciò che ritrovasi nella galleria di pittura e scultura di sua altezza Giuseppe Wenceslao del S.R.I. principe regnante della casa di Liechtenstein. Wien, 1767, p. 105, no. 533.
1780
Dallinger, J. Description des tableaux et de pièces de sculpture, que renferme la gallerie de son altesse François Joseph Chef et Prince regnant de la Maison de Liechtenstein. Wien, 1780, p. 169, no. 573.
1873
Falke, J. von. Katalog der Fürstlich Liechtensteinischen Bildergalerie im Gartenpalais der Rossau zu Wien. Wien, 1873, p. 45, no. 374 (as unknown philosopher).
1908
Mayer, August L. Jusepe de Ribera (Lo Spagnoletto). Leipzig, 1908, p. 188 (as philosopher).
1927
Kronfeld, Adolf. Führer durch die Fürstlich Liechtensteinsche Gemäldegalerie in Wien. 2nd. ed, Wien, 1927, p. 80, no. A55 (as unknown philosopher).
1931
Kronfeld, Adolf. Führer durch die Fürstlich Liechtensteinsche Gemäldegalerie in Wien. 3rd. ed, Wien, 1931, p. 84, no. A374 (as unknown philosopher).
1958
Turner, Evan H. Ribera's Philosophers. Wadsworth Atheneum Bulletin. Spring, 1958, p. 5.
1982
Jusepe de Ribera, lo Spagnoletto (exh cat.). Felton, Craig; Jordan, William B, eds. Kimbell Art Museum, Fortworth, 1982, pp. 152-153.
1986
Felton, Craig. Ribera's 'Philosophers' for the Prince of Liechtenstein. The Burlington Magazine. vol. 128, no. 1004, Nov. 1986, pp. 785-789.
1990
Catalogue of painting acquisitions: 1979-1989. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1990, pp. 55-56, repr.
1992
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. Nos. 23-24 (1989-90), 1992, Yukiyama, Koji. New Acquisitions 1988-89. pp. 2, col. repr., 19-26, Catalogue of the New Acquisitions 1988-89. pp. 44-45, repr.
1994
Kawaguchi, Kimio. Restoration of "Portrait of Philosopher Crates" by Juseph de Ribera. Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. Nos. 25-26 (April 1990-March 1992), 1994, pp. 35-41. col. repr.
2013
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 33, col. repr.

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