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One of the restorers points at the painting The Calvary, by Spanish baroque painter Francisco Ribalta (1565-1628), during the presentation of the artwork after it was restored in Valencia, eastern Spain. EPA/MANUEL BRUQUE.

VALENCIA.- The old Church of San Esteban, on Colón de Valencia Street, had been its hiding place for centuries. The piece, which was completely blackened, had gone unnoticed for many years. The weather had harmed the painting, in fact, 40% of the paint was gone.

For seven months, three conservators from the Fundación La Luz de las Imágenes fixed their eyes and hands on the work. After the cleaning, stucco and chromatic reintegration, technicians found a work of "high quality" according to the conservator responsible for the restoration, José Luis Navarro. But the surprise was not the discovery of an exquisite piece of Baroque Valencia, but its authorship: it is 'Calvary', by Francisco Ribalta (1565-1628).

The advisor from the Consorcio de Museos de la Comunitat Valenciana, Felipe Garin, explained that the colors, the quality of the materials and the position of the figures of the Virgin and Jesus Christ "makes it clear that the canvas is by Ribalta", that the author is not from Valencia but linked to the city. The Baroque painter, born in Solsona (Lleida), "seeking the support of Juan de Ribera, left his best work in Algemesí and Valencia. "

References until now of 'Calvary', according to Garin, pointed to a seventeenth century religious piece. Now it is known that it belongs to Ribalta's mature period (from 1620).

After the exhibition 'The Glory of Baroque', that has been visited by more than 350,000 persons, the canvas will return home after the restorers have regained the color and texture of a "great piece", which also lost 30 inches in size.

Francisco Ribalta (2 June 1565 – 14 January 1628), also known as Francisco Ribaltá or de Ribalta, was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period, mostly of religious subjects.

He was born in Solsona, Lleida. Although his first apprenticeship was apparently with Navarrete, who worked for years in the Escorial, Ribalta's earliest work (a Cruxifixion of 1582) was signed in Madrid. After his years in Madrid, Ribalta was to settle as an artist in Valencia. He became among the first followers in Spain of the austere tenebrist style of Caravaggio. It is unclear if he directly visited either Rome or Naples, where Caravaggio's style had many adherents. Alternatively, it is likely that tenebrist paintings were available in Spain by the early 1600s through the Spanish rule of the Neapolitan kingdom. Jusepe de Ribera is said to have been one of his pupils, although it is entirely possible that Ribera acquired his tenebrism when he moved to Italy.

The tenebrist style gathered a number of adherents in Spain, and was to influence the pre-eminent Baroque or Golden Age Spanish painters, especially Zurbarán, but also Velázquez and Murillo. Even the art of still life in Spain, the bodegón, was often painted in a similar stark and austere style. Among the direct disciples of Francisco were his son, Juan Ribalta, and Vicente Castelló. Ribalta died in Valencia on 14 January 1628. With information from Wikipedia.org