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The intensity of realism pursued by Caravaggio in contrast with Mannerism was amplified by his followers (“Caravaggisti”); these included the Spanish painter, Jusepe de Ribera, with his tenebristic style as classified by the early biographers.1 Indeed, de Ribera mastered the Caraveggesque chiaroscuro and gained widespread popularity as a result of his lifelike naturalism, becoming the most influential Spanish Baroque painter. He depicted dramatic and sinister scenes of tortured saints with faces contorted in pain, mutilated and ageing bodies adorned with sagging flesh, gruesome martyrdoms and societal outcasts.1
The great realism of de Ribera is shown in masterpieces in which anatomical abnormalities or medical diseases afflicted the sitters. Such works included The Clubfoot (arthrogryposis), The Bearded Woman (endocrinological disease), The Allegory of Touch (blindness) and the drawings of The Grotesque Heads of Men (thyroid goitre). Interestingly, we have …
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