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Equestrian portrait of Don Juan of Austria; the Bay of Naples in the background; early state. 1648
- Production date
Height: 358 millimetres (trimmed)
Width: 273 millimetres (trimmed)
- Curator's comments
This print was Ribera's last etching and marks his return to printmaking after a lapse of 20 Years. The print commemorates the occasion when in October 1647 Don Juan of Austria, the illegitimate son of Philip IV arrived in Naples accompanied by 22 Spanish galleons to quell the rioting Neapolitans. The revolution was led by Tomasso Aniello da Amalfi (Masianello) began 7 July 1647 prompted by the pressures of increased taxation and inflation. The imposition of a new tax on fruit unleashed the disquiet. In October the people declared their loyalty to the Spanish crown and in late January the following year the Duke of Arcos relinquished his viceroyalty of Naples to Juan of Austria.
The print is related to the painting commissioned by Don Juan that shows him on a rearing horse (Royal Palace, Madrid). The print follows the painting but considerably opens up the background including much more detail. He gives the print a precise historical context. The fleet is in the bay and the buildings along the shoreline can be identified; the Castel San Martino, the Royal Palace, Arsenal, and the Torre di San Vicenzo. At the extreme right of the composition is the Piazza Mercato, the hub of the anti-Spanish revolt led by Masianello. The rearing horse's left hoof is directly above the piazza, about to fall, thereby symbolically crushing the revolution.
This is the first state of the print. In the second extensively reworked state, a unique impression of which is in the British Museum (see W,6.93). Ribera most notably added details to the sky and Don Juan wears a moustache. The general effect is that Don Juan looks older and more serious and the composition is heavier. Gone is his youth. It is not known why Ribera made the changes but it is possible that Ribera or Don Juan did not regard his person as conveying adequate authority or purpose befitting the role he was charged to undertake. In some respects the first state seem unfinished, in particular the blank sky and the faintly defined cityscape. The first state impressions might have been pulled as a response to need, they had to be printed quickly for political motivations in support of Don Juan, especially given Ribera was resident in the royal palace. That only one impression of the second state is recorded suggests that revised solution was not regarded a success and impressions not printed.
Lit.: M.P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain',London 2012, pp.183-84. Other literature to be added.
See also W,6.92
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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