- Museum number
The martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew; a figure to left flaying the arm of the saint who is tied to a tree
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
- 1620-1624 (c.)
Height: 133 millimetres
Width: 100 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Modified text from McDonald 2013
Ribera was a prolific draughtsman who regarded drawing as central to his artistic work. This is reflected by the many drawings in different media that have survived from throughout his career. In his 'Vite de’ Pittori, Scultori, ed Architetti Napoletani' (1742–5) Bernardo De Dominici described how Ribera drew almost every day of his life: 'In the evening he also used to make drawings of what he would paint the following day, and, as soon as he had decided what he wanted to do, he made finished drawings either in pen or with wash and watercolour, and more often with red chalk, although he sometimes used black chalk ….' (De Dominici 1742, pt III, pp. 32–3).
During the 1620s Ribera made drawings as studies for paintings and prints but also as independent exercises. This drawing has been identified as preparatory for Ribera's 1624 etching (1874,0808,746). It depicts the central scene where the bound Saint is being flayed, the heads of the priests appearing between the foreground figures. But the differences between the drawing and the print are significant, indicating that the drawing was made at an early stage, while Ribera was still working out his ideas. In the drawing there is far greater physical tension, the saint strains against the ropes binding him to the tree while the executioner uses his full weight to strip away his skin. In the print, Bartholomew resigned to his fate, gazes toward heaven and receives the crown of martyrdom. The executioner is coldly clinical in his task, with a knife between his teeth he uses another to cut away skin, his feet planted firmly on the ground for stability while emphasising his cruel concentration.
The subject of a figure bound to a tree occurs in other drawings from around the same time notably sheets depicting St Sebastian and the remarkable red chalk study of a hermit saint (1850,0713.4).
W. Vitzthum & A.M. Petrioli, 'Cento disegni napoletani, Gabinetto disegni e stampe, Florence, 1967, no.32; J. Brown, 'Jusepe de Ribera: prints and drawings (catalogue raisonné)', Princeton, 1973, no.8, pl.35; exh.cat. Museo del Prado, Madrid, 'Ribera: 1591-1652', 1992, no.D11 (Manuela Mena Marqués); A.E. Pérez Sánchez, 'Historia del dibujo español de la Edad Media a Goya', Milan, 1986, p.205; C. Fischer & J. Meyer, 'Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings Statens Museum for Kunst, Neapolitan Drawings', Copenhagen, 2006, under no.14; M. P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain', exh.cat., British Museum, London 2012, pp.185-6; M. P. McDonald, ‘El trazo español en el British Museum: Dibujos del Renacimiento a Goya’, exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2013, cat.no.42: G. Finaldi (ed.), 'Jusepe de Ribera, The Drawings. Catalogue raisonné', Madrid, 2016, no. 21
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 BM, Spanish Drawings (no cat)
1992 May-Aug, Madrid, Museo del Prado, `Jusepe de Ribera`, no. D.11
2012/13 Sept-Jan, London, British Museum, ‘Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain’
2013 March-June, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, ‘El trazo español en el British Museum …’
2013, Aug-Nov, Sydney, AGNSW, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2013-4, Dec-Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Modern Art, 'Renaissance to Goya'
EMBARGOED UNTIL 2024
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: FAWK,5212.111