(b Solsona, Lérida, bapt 2 June 1565; d
Valencia, 13 Jan 1628).
He was the most distinguished artist working in Valencia in the early
17th century. His move towards naturalism at an early date was
significant for the history of Spanish painting as well as being very
influential. His documented mature works after about 1620 show a change
of vision, and they are also of the highest quality. The religious
paintings are depicted with more pronounced realism, and his deeply felt
spiritual belief is expressed in a direct and very immediate way. In
1607 Ribalta supported other leading Valencian painters in a move to
form the Colegio de Pintores (College of Painters) to safeguard the
interests of the profession. The expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609 and
the death in 1611 of the Patriarch Archbishop Juan de Ribera, Ribalta’s
most important patron, led to an economic crisis and spiritual void in
Valencia that had an effect on his activity, since thereafter
commissions came more rarely, and his work became more introspective.
During 1616 and 1617 the idea of forming the Colegio de Pintores was
revived, and Ribalta took an active role in the management and signed
the petition to Philip III seeking support for the Colegio. Ribalta’s
studio included his son Juan Ribalta and son-in-law Vicente Castelló,
who disseminated his style during the second third of the 17th century.