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“WHY TEAR ME FROM MYSELF?”: THE DEPICTION OF FLAYING IN THE ART OF JUSEPE DE RIBERA

Cornea, Ioan-Bogdan (2015) “WHY TEAR ME FROM MYSELF?”: THE DEPICTION OF FLAYING IN THE ART OF JUSEPE DE RIBERA. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines from an original point of view the relationship between technique and subject matter in Jusepe de Ribera’s depictions of flaying. Ribera revisited the topic throughout his career, painting it more than any artist at the time – there are eight extant paintings showing the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew and Apollo flaying Marsyas. Scholarly interest in Ribera has thus far been predominantly biographical and attributional, treating his paintings mostly in terms of style inherited from Caravaggio and subject matter as a reflection of the supposedly violent nature of “Neapolitan society.” This thesis argues that Ribera’s paintings of flaying offer viewers a visual paradox by never aligning, or making coherent the relationship between the force of their subject and their technique. This thesis focuses on the relationships between corporeal and pictorial surfaces in order to explore life and death, chiaroscuro and spirituality, touch as creative and destructive, violence and materiality. The fundamental question of life and death is treated in relation to corporeal fragmentation and the integrity of pictorial surfaces. The chiaroscuro is considered as a moving fold in relation to apophatic and cataphatic theology. Touch, as the key gesture of these paintings, is explored in relation to making and unmaking. And finally, violence is examined in relation to materiality. This thesis pays special attention to the working of the canvas, impasto, and chiaroscuro, interpreting them as refashioning the subject’s narrative, temporality, and spirituality. Ultimately, this dissertation shows that Ribera’s paintings of flaying should be conceived as powerful, distinct pictorial bodies, rather than altarpieces or gallery pictures representing an extravagant subject matter.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.680625
Depositing User: Mr. Ioan-Bogdan Cornea
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 12:42
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11996

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