Apollo and Marsyas de Ribera

Apollo and Marsyas de Ribera
Apollo and Marsyas de Ribera
Anonim

Thebaroque painter José de Ribera, better known asLo Spagnolettobecause he practically developed his entire artistic career inItaly, was inspired by this theme for several of his works. A theme that is actually a fusion between two different episodes recounted in one of the classic books par excellence: The Metamorphoses of the Roman poet Ovid.

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Apollo and Marsyas de Ribera in the Brussels museum

Two episodes in which we are told as thegod Apolloparticipated in two musical contests, masterfully playing his favorite instrument: the bowed lyre. In one of them he faced Pan who played another ancient instrument such as the syrinx (an antecedent of Pan's current flute), while in the other his great opponent was Marsyas, a prodigy playing another type of flute.

With all these elements, Ribera created several scenes, of which the most famous and relevant are the two paintings that we show you here. One made in 1637 and preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and another from the same year that can be seen in the Naples Archaeological Museum. And it's curious, because in the first one, although the scene is titled Apollo and Marsyas the three instruments are distinguished. Something that does not happen in the Neapolitan canvas where the syringa and the lyre are.

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Apollo and Marsyas ofRibera at the museum in Naples

However, that difference, some changes in tone and certain elements cannot hide that the composition is identical in both frames. A moment that has nothing to do with music, since Apollo dedicates himself to killing and skinning Marsyas, who, as usual in this Baroque period, shows us all the rawness of his suffering. A suffering that contrasts with the almost happy face of the young god.

And the thing is that, as happens in so many stories of classical mythology, there is always enormous cruelty on the part of the gods. In this case, we are told that Apollo was declared the winner of the contest by the Muses, so to punish this arrogant Marsyas who had dared to challenge him, he decided to tie him to a tree, thus skinning him alive. Neither more nor less than that Ribera shows us, a type of scene that he must have liked since, as we say, he repeated it on several occasions.

Although it is more than possible that he liked it because of the pictorial possibilities it gave him, especially in that rich composition based on intersecting diagonals. A composition that highlights the posture of the martyred Marsyas in a forced foreshortening that immediately reminds us of the Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio.

It is not the only link between Ribera and Caravaggio, since the Spanish paintings are also very realistic and he expands on capturing each and every one of the anatomical details, to which is added its particular light treatment that gives it atremendous to her scenes.

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