Jusepe de Ribera, 1591 – 1652 was a Spanish Valencian painter, also known as Lo Spagnoletto (“the Little Spaniard”) by his contemporaries. He was a leading painter of the Spanish school, although his mature work was all done in Italy.
Born in Xàtiva, near Valencia, Spain he longed to study art in Italy so he made his way to Rome where he was known for living above his means, despite having a high income. He moved to Naples in 1616, which was then part of the Spanish Empire, where his Spanish nationality aligned him with the governing class in the city.
Ribera signed his work as “Jusepe de Ribera, Spaniard” and was accepted as the leading painter in Naples where he received the Order of Christ of Portugal from Pope Urban VIII in 1626.
He painted the horrors and reality of human cruelty and showed he valued truth over idealism. Although Ribera never returned to Spain, many of his paintings were taken back by returning members of the Spanish governing class, and his influence can be seen in Velázquez, Murillo, and most other Spanish painters of the period.