Saint Inessa and the angel covering her with a veil - José de Ribera. 202 x 152 cm.
"Saint Inessa" is one of the most famous and popular paintings of the Spanish artist. It was written in the mature period of his work, when original gold and silver shades appeared in his works, different from the dark and deep colors of the early “Karavadzhievsky” period.
Saint Inessa is a young girl, a teenager, whom cruel pagans put on public display completely naked. She was so punished for refusing to renounce the Christian faith. But hard-hearted scoffers did not manage to make fun of an innocent girl for a long time. Her hair suddenly began to grow and soon a violent wave covered her whole body, hiding him from obscene and rough looks. On top of the miracle, an angel descended from heaven, who covered the young Christian with a veil.
It was this climax that depicted de Ribera on his canvas. Saint Inessa is imprinted on him not as a victim of rudeness and misunderstanding, but as a completely innocent and pure creature in her faith. This is a fragile teenager with thin arms and legs, delicate skin and a truly angelic facial expression. She is not afraid, although she should have. Inessa prays, she believes so deeply that she is convinced of her safety.
It is believed that the artist painted the holy martyr with his daughter. Well, be that as it may, the image of a young, immaculate maiden succeeded him perfectly. She has delicate, white skin, a pink blush on her cheeks, huge dark and expressive eyes. This girl is beautiful bodily and spiritually.
There are no extraneous details on the canvas that distract from the main plot. The painting was done in restrained golden brown tones; its background seemed to dissolve in the radiance emanating from the figure of a young saint. She kneels on the bare, rough floor of stone tiles - this is all that is available from the entourage to the audience. The diagonal composition, which makes the canvas dynamic, is emphasized by the arrangement of the figure of the angel and the panel brought by him, with which he envelops the figure of St. Inessa. The cloak itself is also made in golden tones, which gives it radiance and emphasizes its heavenly origin.
The light skin of the saint is emphasized and made shining by dark hair, completely enveloping her figure. They seem to separate her body from all the negative that surrounds her in this world. The girl looks protected not only by an angel cloak. No one is allowed to disturb her innocence with a dirty look or shake confidence in her faith, because she is under the protection of God himself.