The Sense of Touch
c. 1615-16
Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652)
On View

Seated at a wooden table, a blind man uses his hands to thoughtfully perceive a carved head, while a painting rests beside him, unnoticed. By depicting the sense of touch in this way, Jusepe de Ribera engaged in a long-standing debate over the merits of sculpture versus painting. Sculpture was considered the most accessible of the arts, since it could be understood through touch and vision. In his naturalistic rendering of the sculpture, however, Ribera also made a case for the virtuosity of painting. The artist used paint to create effects of texture and weight, emphasizing the man’s wrinkled hands supporting the heavy bust. Through vision, the painting appeals to the sense of touch, inviting viewers to imagine the sculpture’s smooth contours under their own fingertips.

Details

  • Artist Name: Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652)
  • Title: The Sense of Touch
  • Date: c. 1615-16
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 45-5/8 x 34-3/4 in. (115.9 x 88.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1965.1.052.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

?Feliks Feliksovich Iusupov, Kniaz’ (1887-1967), Moscow and St. Petersburg (until 1919), and Paris.
(sale, New York, Parke-Bernet, 9 April 1953, lot 194, as Spanish School, XVII Century, The Sculptor–Sense of Touch, to);
[Duveen Bros., New York, stock no. 30164, as Antonio de Puga, later changed to Pietro Novelli; sold, as Pietro Novelli, 1965 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969 to 1969
Bolland, Andrea, Art Bulletin, n. 104, fig. 12 pp. 309, 321, 330
Pepper, D. Stephen, Arte Illustrata, n. 9 p. 178
Felton, Craig, Apollo, fig. 8 p. 8
Mancini, Giulio, Considerazione sulla pittura, pp. 149-150
Hilaire, Michel et al., Corps et ombres: Caravage et le caravagine european, Fig. 2 p. 350
Haraszti-Takács, Marianna, Spanish Genre Painting in the Seventeenth Century, no. 170, pl. 65
Wadsworth Atheneum Paintings II: Italy and Spain, Fourteenth through Nineteenth Centuries, pp. 32-322 (fig. 82)
Spear, Richard E., Storia dell' arte, pp. 149-150
Spinosa, Nicola, Art e Dossier, p. 11
Longhi, Roberto, Paragone, pp. 74-78
Rossela Vodret and Yusuke Kawase, 150th Anniverary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Italy "Caravaggio", Fig. 8 p. #71
Hecht, Peter, Simiolus, fig. 2 pp. 125-136
Scholz-Hänsel, Michael, Jusepe de Ribera 1591-1652, fig. 2 pp. 24-31
Konecný, Lubomír, Paragone, pp. 85-92
Hughes, Robert, Time, p. 83
Schleier, Erich, Paragone, pp. 79-80
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. D44 p. 444
Piero Corsino, Inc., Important Old Master Paintings and Discoveries of the Past Year, fig. 2 pp. 64, 66
Piero Corsino, Inc., Ribera inedito tra Roma e Napoli, pp. 5-6
Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E.; and Nicola Spinosa, L'opera completa del Ribera, no. 3, color pl. II p. 92
Saunders Candlin, Enid, Christian Science Monitor, p. 16
Paoletti, John, Apollo, pp. 425-426
Knox, Giles, Sense Knowledge and the Challenge of Italian Renaissance Art: El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Fig. 86 p. 208; p. 209 (ill.)
Morrison, Karl F., "I Am You": The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology, and Art, pl. 1 pp. 301-302
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 38
Johnson, Geraldine A., A Companion to Art Theory, plate 5.1 pp. 63-65
Painting in Naples, 1606-1705: From Caravaggio to Giordano, no. 119
Velàzquez in Seville, under no. 11
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Satrústegui, Miguel (ed.) - various authors, Fundación Politeia: 50 años de cultura - II. de la Época del Barroco al Mundo Contemporáneo, Ribera - Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez pp. 149-185, p. 158 (ill.)
Felton, Craig, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 15 pp. 71-81
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Michaud, Cécile, Revue de'l art, fig. 11 p. 69
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Volpe, Carlo, Paragone, pp. 72-73
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Wadsworth Atheneum, Renaissance to Rococo: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, fig. 29a p. 96-97
Waterhouse, Ellis, The Burlington Magazine, p. 248
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