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Durham University

Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art

Events

Research Seminar Series organised by the Zurbarán Centre with ARTES Iberian & Visual Culture Group

This live online seminar series provides an open forum for engaging with new and cutting-edge research on diverse topics in Iberian and Latin American art and visual culture.

The weekly sessions usually take place on Wednesdays, 6.00-7.00pm, except the fourth session scheduled for Tuesday, 2 February. The talks last ca. 40 minutes and are followed by Q&A.

The series is free and open to all with an interest in the visual arts. Booking is essential. Please email the Zurbarán Centre (Zurbaran.centre@durham.ac.uk) to register and to receive a zoom link. Please note registration closes 24 hours before the seminar.

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Detail fom Velázquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja, 1650 (Metropolitan Museum of Art). Wikimedia (public domain).

Juan de Pareja, Detail fom Velázquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja, 1650 (Metropolitan Museum of Art). Wikimedia (public domain).

Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art Zurbarán Centre | Roper House, 10 Market Place, Bishop Auckland, DL14 7NJ, UK
email: zurbaran.centre@durham.ac.uk follow us on twitter: @zurbaran_centre

Le noir Valenciana: Ribera, Gautier and the French Taste for Violent Painting

7th February 2019, 16:00 to 17:00, Room 146, Elvet Riverside 1, Durham University, Dr Edward Payne

Through a close, comparative study of Ribera’s paintings and Gautier’s poems, this lecture will explore nineteenth-century attitudes towards extreme imagery in the context of the revival of the Spanish School in France.

Paintings by the Spanish Baroque artist, Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), prompted a range of contradictory responses in the nineteenth century. Poets, travel writers, critics and artists reacted to his work, especially his striking depictions of violent subjects, at once with admiration and displeasure. In his epic poem Don Juan (1823), Lord Byron declares that ‘Spagnoletto tainted / His brush with all the blood of all the sainted’, and in 1845, Théophile Gautier published two poems on the artist, referring to Ribera as ‘le noir Valencian’, and ‘plus dur que Jupiter’. While Byron and Gautier are often quoted in the literature on the artist, scholars have been swift to dismiss these responses as ‘muddying the waters’ of Ribera’s œuvre, and thus his reception during the nineteenth century has, until recently, received scant scholarly attention.

Through a close, comparative study of Ribera’s paintings and Gautier’s poems, this lecture will explore nineteenth-century attitudes towards extreme imagery in the context of the revival of the Spanish School in France. It will provide a more contextualised and nuanced account of Ribera’s reception during the nineteenth century, and demonstrate that Gautier’s poetic responses are not, in fact, distorting, but revealing. The lecture will argue for the significance of these poems by suggesting that Gautier calls attention to the problematic relationship between the act of inflicting torture and the art of representing pain, a tension which is central to an understanding of Ribera’s violent imagery, and to the myth-making of Ribera as a ‘violent’ artist.

Contact zurbaran.centre@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.