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Francisco Ribalta, The Vision of Father Simón

Key facts
Full title The Vision of Father Simón
Artist Francisco Ribalta
Artist dates 1565 - 1628
Date made 1612
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 210.8 × 110.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1913
Inventory number NG2930
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
The Vision of Father Simón
Francisco Ribalta

Francisco Gerónimo Simón (1578–1612) was parish priest of San Andrés in Valencia. In 1612 he had a miraculous vision: here he is shown kneeling in front of the towering figure of Christ carrying the Cross, tears streaming down his face, as he reaches out to embrace him. Christ is followed by a procession of trumpeting Roman soldiers, Saint John the Evangelist and the Virgin. The soldiers appear squashed and only part of the Virgin is visible now because the painting has been reduced along both vertical sides, and probably along the top.

Ribalta’s signature is placed prominently on a piece of paper lying at Christ’s feet. The picture is dated 1612, the year of Father Simón’s vision and death. A period of fervent devotion to Father Simón followed, until his cult was banned in 1619.

Ribalta worked in Valencia in his late career. His art was strongly influenced by the Italian painters Sebastiano del Piombo and Caravaggio, some of whose works were known in Spain.

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