Like many of you, we miss visiting our local museums for inspiration, or just to lose ourselves in the canvases of Rothko or Rembrandt. Many institutions had opened exhibitions shortly before the order came for us to shelter-in-place. The world-renowned Kimbell Art Museum, for example, had unveiled “Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum” on March 1. On view in those now-dark galleries are nearly 40 works from artists including Raphael, El Greco, and Titian.
To stay engaged with their audiences who are now at home, the Kimbell now provides a rich assortment of online resources. (For other organizations with such content, search #MuseumFromHome on social media platforms. An abundance of educational tools are available for families with children who are now distance learning.)
Guillaume Kientz, the Kimbell’s curator of European art (who is sheltering-in-place in New York City), has produced some videos of highlights from the “Flesh and Blood” exhibition that we’re pleased to share exclusively with you here on PaperCityMag.com. Kientz joined the museum’s team in early 2019 after his tenure as the curator of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American art at the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
In this second video (his first highlighted Giovanni Lanfranco’s Assumption of Mary Magdalene), he gives a brief introduction to Jusepe de Ribera’s Saint Jerome. Hopefully soon the galleries will open once again at the Kimbell in Fort Worth, and you’ll have the chance to see this work and the many other masterpieces on view.
Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652), Saint Jerome, 1626. Oil on canvas. Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Naple
Jerome (c. 347–420) was a convert to Christianity who devoted his life to studying the Bible, often isolating himself in the desert. Here, in the middle of his contemplation, an angel suddenly appears and blows a horn, startling the solitary man with the announcement of his imminent death. The stark light from above illuminates the scholar’s texts and a skull, the symbol of death, as well as his withered body. Ribera’s thickly loaded paintbrush renders Jerome’s wrinkled forehead and stomach as palpable human skin, making paint a metaphor for flesh itself.
Born in Valencia, Spain, Ribera moved to Italy as early as 1606, painting his first known works in Parma and then transferring to Rome in 1613. Arriving in Naples in 1616, Ribera quickly became the leading artist; his command of realism and chiaroscuro (use of strong contrast between light and dark) was impressive, and he also benefited from the fact that Naples was governed by Spain. In addition to paintings and altarpieces he made for clients in Naples, he sent numerous works back to clients in his home country.