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Jusepe de Ribera was a Spanish artist who worked primarily in Naples, and he is best known for his religious paintings made during the Counter Reformation. He produced only eighteen prints in small editions, and his Drunken Silenus (1628) is considered to be his best etching. The subject is a variation of a painting now in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy. He was widely admired, including by Rembrandt and Goya, for his brutal naturalism and his skill at depicting varieties of textures (i.e., wood, skin, and fur).
from Calendar of Events, September-December 2012
A reclining, nude Silenus props himself up on one arm, lifting a cup in his other hand to be filled by a satyr standing behind him. Another satyr stands to the left, crowning him with a wreath woven of grape vines. A baby sleeps at Silenus’s feet while his companion drinks from a wine cup. The head of a braying donkey occupies the upper right of the composition. Two additional figures peek from behind a boulder, the female figure holding a tambourine. A large vat of grapes provides the backdrop for the scene, compressing the foreground and focusing attention on the flabby and obviously inebriated god.
written by Cheryl K. Snay, Ph.D., Curator of European and American Art before 1900, 2020