Monopoli 1612 — 1656 Naples
Semi-grotesque Head in Profile
dark brown ink over traces of black chalk. 31/8 x 31/8" (80 x 80mm).
Though Craig Felton thought this drawing to be by Ribera, Gabriele Finaldi did not, nor did Mark McDonald. Ribera is known for his studies of semi-grotesque, knarled male heads, especially in profile, and for his seemingly spontaneous yet skillful penmanship. For these Riberesque characteristics, this drawing is likely by a close follower, a former student, and specifically, Francesco Fracanzano. Fracanzano continued to paint in the tenebrist manner of his teacher, and also painted a good number of single figure subjects, male saints and martyrs, and like Ribera, they were largely rather coarse- featured. So studies from life or imagination of craggy faced males like the present would be helpful.
Ribera's early advocacy of Naturalism was an influence on Fracanzano as was the master's interest in drama. Indeed The Six Philosophers painted with a harsh realism in the mid 1630's for the Prince of Lichtenstein, were thought by Felton and Spinoza (before documentation was discovered and cleaning revealed otherwise) to perhaps have been painted by Fracanzano.1 Other works also by the master were at various times given to Fracanzano rather than Ribera or other followers.
Fracanzano was the teacher of Salvator Rosa and had married his sister.
Perez-Sanchez and Spinosa, Jusepe de Ribera, 1591-1652, 1992, the Metropolitan Museum, pp. 115-116.