RIBALTA, FranciscoSpanish Baroque Era Painter, ca.1565-1628
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.