RIBERA, Jusepe de
(b. 1591, Játiva, d. 1652, Napoli)

Jacob's Dream

Oil on canvas, 179 x 233 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

This work by Ribera has particular interest because it conspicuously avoids the usual iconography of Jacob's dream, involving a ladder. Instead, the dream is suggested merely by vaporous, golden figures who might almost be part of the real sky. But the setting of the dreamer, and the play of light on his sleeping face, impart a portentous and mysterious mood to the scene.

In this quiet, strangely powerful scene, Ribera turns the rigorous geometry of the Roman classical style into the lyric poetry of naturalism.