Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 13.djvu/53

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RIBEIRAO


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RIBERA


favourable circumstances and made good use of his opportunities."

Alegre, I/istoria de In CompaAia de Jesus (Mexico, 1841); Bancroft, Hist. North Mexican States and Texas, I (San Fran- cisco, 1886); BERf STAIN r Sodza, Biblioteca Hispano- Americana Setentrional, III (Amecemeca, 1883).

James Mooney.

Ribeirao Preto, Diocese of (de Riberao Preto), suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, established 7 June, 1908, with a Cathohc popu- lation of 500,000 souls. The first and present bishop, Rt. Rev. Alberto Jose Gongalves, was bom 20 July, 1859, elevated 5 December, 1908, and consecrated 29 April, 1909. The district of Ribeirao Preto is at present the most important one of the State of Sao Paulo, both on account of the richness of its soil and the great number of agricultural, industrial, and com- mercial establishments therein. Its principal prod- uct is coffee, the shipments of which are so consider- able as to necessitate the constant running of an extraordinary number of trains.

The seat of the diocese is the city of Ribeirao Preto, situated on the shores of Ribeirao Preto and Ribeirao Retiro, 264 miles from the capital of the state. The municipaUty, created by law of 1 April, 1889, is di- vided into four wards, viz.: Villa Tibeiro, Barracao, Morro do Cip6, and RepubUca. It is, like most of the interior towns of Sao Paulo, of modern constmc- tion. The city is lighted by electric light and has ex- cellent sewer and water-supply systems. The streets are well laid, straight, and intersecting at right angles, with many parks and squares. The cathedral, now Hearing completion, will be one of the finest buildings of its kind in Brazil. It is well provided with schools and colleges, prominent among which are those main- tained by the Church.

Julian Morexo-Lacalle.

Ribera, Jusepe de, called also Spagnoletto, L'Espagnolet (the little Spaniard), painter, b. at Jativa, 12 Jan., 1588; d. at Naples, 1656. Fan- tastic accounts have been given of his early history; his father was said to be a noble, captain of the fortress of Naples, etc. All this is pure romance. A pupil of Ribalta, the author of many beautiful pictures in the churches of Valencia, the young man desired to know Italy. He was a very determined character. At eighteen, alone and without resources, he begged in the streets of Rome in order to live, and performed the services of a lackey. A picture by Caravaggio aroused his admiration, and he set out for Naples in search of the artist, but the latter had just died (1609). Ribera was then only twenty. For fifteen years the artist is entirely lost sight of; it is thought that he travelled in upper Italy. He is again found at Naples in 1626, at which time he was married, living like a nobleman, keeping his carriage and a train of followers, received by viceroys, the accom- plished host of all travelling artists, and very proud of his title of Roman Academician. Velasquez paid him a visit on each of his journeys (1630,1649). A sorrow clouded the end of his life; his daughter was seduced by Don Juan of Austria. Her father seems to have died of grief, but the story of his suicide is a fiction.

Ribera' s name is synonymous with a terrifying art of wild-beast fighters and executioners. Not that he did not paint charming figures. No artist of his time, not excepting Rubens or Guido Reni, was more sensitive to a certain ideal of Correggio-like grace. But Ribera did not love either ugliness or beauty for themselves, seeking them in tum only to arouse emo- tion. His fixed idea, which recurs in every form in his art, is the pursuit and cultivation of sensation. In fact the whole of Ribera's work must be understood as that of a man who made the pathetic the condition of art and the reason of the beautiful. It is the nega-


tion of the art of the Renaissance, the reaction of as- ceticism and the Catholic Reformation on the volupt- uous paganism of the sixteenth century. Hence the preference for the popular types, the weather- beaten and wrinkled beggar, and especially the old man. This "aging" of art about 1600 is a sign of the century. Heroic youth and pure beauty were dead for a long time. The anchorites and wasted ceno- bites, the parchment-hke St. Jeromes, these singular methods of depicting the mystical life seem Ribera's personal creation; to show the ruins of the human body, the drama of a long existence written in fur- rows and wrinkles, all engraved by a pencil which digs and scrutinizes, using the sunhght as a kind of acid which bites and makes dark shadows, was one of the artist's most cherished formulas.

No one demonstrates so well the profound change which took place in men's minds after the Reforma- tion and the Council of Trent. Thenceforth concern for character and accent forestalled every other consideration. Leanness, weariness, and abasement became the pictorial signs of the spiritual Ufe. A sombre energ>' breathes in these figures of Apostles, prophets, saints, and philosophers. Search for character became that of ugliness and monstrosity. Nothing is so personal to Ribera as this love of de- formity. Paintings like the portrait of "Cambazo", the blind sculptor, the "Bearded Woman" (Prado, 1630), and the "Club Foot" of the Lou\Te (1651) inaugurate curiosities which had happily been foreign to the spirit of the Renaissance. They show a gloomy pleasure in humiliating human nature. Art, which formerly used to glorify life, now violently empha.sized its vices and defects. The artist seized upon the most ghastly aspects even of antiquity. Cato of Utica, howling and distending his wound, Ixion on his wheel, Sisyphus beneath his rock. This artistic terrorism won for Ribera his sinister reputa- tion, and it must be admitted that it had depraved and perverted qualities. The sight of blood and torture as the source of pleasure is more pagan than the joy of life and the laughing sensuality of the Renaissance. At times Ribera's art seems a dan- gerous return to the dehghts of the amphitheatre. His "Apollo and Marsyas" (Naples), his "Duel" or "Match of Women" (Prado) recall the programme of some spectacle manager of the decadence. In nothing is Ribera more "Latin" than in this san- guinary tradition of the* games of the circus.

However, it would be unjust wholly to condemn this singular taste in accordance with our modern ideas. At least we cannot deny extraordinary merit to the scenes of martyrdom painted by Ribera. This great master has never been surpassed as a practical artist. For plastic realism, clearness of drawing, and evidence of composition the "Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew" (there are in Europe a dozen copies, of which the most beautiful is at the Prado) is one of the masterpieces of Spanish genius. It is impos- sible to imagine a more novel and striking idea. No one has spoken a language more simple and direct. In this class of subjects Rubens usually avoids atrocity by an oratorical turn, by the splendour of his discourse, the lyric brilliancy of the colouring. Ribera's point of view is scarcely less powerful with much less artifice. It is less transformed and de- veloped. The action is collected in fewer persons. The gestures are less redundant, with a more spon- taneous quality. The tone is more sober and at the same time stronger. Everything seems more severe and of a more concentrated violence. The art also, while perhaps not the most elevated of all, is at least one of the most original and convincing. Few artists have given us, if not serene enjoyment, more serious thoughts. The "St. Lawrence" of the Vatican is scarcely less beautiful than the "St. Bartholomew".

Moreover it must not be thought that these ideas