Städel Museum Gifted Rare Ribera Painting

Jusepe de Ribera, called Lo Spagnoletto (1591-1652) Saint James the Greater, c. 1632 Oil on canvas, 110.5 x 98 cm Price: £1.1 million Photo: Fergus Hall Master Paintings
Jusepe de RiberaSt. James the Greater (ca. 1615/16) Photo: Städel Museum

Jusepe de Ribera St. James the Greater (ca. 1615/16)
Photo: Städel Museum

To celebrate her 100th birthday, the long-standing benefactor of Frankfurt’s Städel Museum, Dagmar Westberg, has donated Jusepe de Ribera’s St. James the Greater (ca. 1615/16) to the museum’s old masters collection. The painting is one of the most valuable and significant works by the Spanish painter.

Ribera (1591-1652) is widely considered as one of the most important 17th century artists. His painting style united aspects of two major European artistic schools. Although Ribera was born in the Spanish province of Valencia, he spent most of his life working in the Italian cities of Rome and Naples. Consequently, he is thought of as not only one of the most influential Spanish artists, but also one of the most important Italian baroque painters.

The new acquisition is currently on view in the Städel’s Italian gallery. After centuries of private ownership, it is the first time the masterpiece has been on public display in four hundred years. The Städel Museum’s curator Dr. Bastian Eclercy described the acquisition as “one of the most outstanding works of his most important phase, one of Ribera’s most mature pictorial creations from his time in Rome.”

The director of the Städel Museum Max Hollein said “Dagmar Westberg is a shining example and a prominent personality to whom we are extremely grateful. Her donation of St. James the Greater should, without a doubt, be regarded as a milestone in the museum’s long philanthropic history. We are happy and proud that Ms. Westberg celebrated her special day with us at the Städel.”

Wergberg hails from a wealthy German-Baltic family. Her great uncle Oskar Troplowitz founded the Beiersdorf Corporation which still manufactures products such as Hansaplast, Tesa-tape, and Nivea. Last year, the philanthropist sponsored the purchase of works including a rare Goya lithograph and an Edvard Munch print.

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