The Dream of Jacob
The Dream of Jacob was painted by José de Ribera.This painting was commissioned by Jerónimo de la Torre
who was Philip's IV State secretary for the Flanders' affairs. It was made in 1639 in Naples, during the visit of the author to Italy. At the moment, it's displayed at the Prado Museum.
The Dream of Jacob
Its size is 179 cm high x 233 cm wide and it's made up with oil over canvas painting. It's a religious painting.
The painting represents the patriarch Jacob sleeping supported on his left arm. Following the Genesis' story, Jacob is having a strange dream about a celestial staircase where angels are going up and down. Jacob is placed in the center asleep in the most realistic way, as if he was a shepherd. In fact, the celestial stairs are the strong spotlight which lights up Jacob's face. The angels of these celestial stairs are almost invisible.
In this photo we can see the angels in the celestial stairs.
He creates areas of lights and shadows which are very contrasted by two spotlights of light. The nightfall natural one which gave to the painting beautiful blue, yellow, orange tonalities and a powerful flashlight which illuminate the protagonist's shape exalting his relaxed expression. The painter used a geometric cross composition and a foreshortened figure. In this painting, Ribera gets closer to the illumination and the colors of the Venetian School.
This is a Baroque painting because its features are realism and religiosity. The main commissioners were the kings and the Church; in this case, the commissioner is a secretary of the king. Oil was used to paint on canvas and there were also contrasts of light and shadows, foreshortened figures and a complex composition. In this painting we can see almost all this features.
Ribera lost his initial tenebrism and started painting with similar characteristics to the Venetian school. He was influenced by Caravaggio at first, but then he was influenced by Van Dyck and other painters. The local painters, such as Velázquez and Murillo, took the works that Ribera sent to Spain as a reference and some other painters like Fragonard, Manet and Henri Matisse... copied his works. In Italy he was known as Lo Spagnoletto («El Españolito»). This painting belonged to the Jerónimo de la Torre's family until 1718. In 1746 it was found among all queen Isabel of Farnesio's paintings. She bought it as a Murillo's canvas and it was attributed to this painter for a long time.
Portrait of José de Ribera.