by Alexandra Tuschka
Shortly before his death, the Spanish painter chose as a painting motif a little boy with a rather unaesthetic deformity - a clubfoot. It is a young beggar wandering the countryside, feeding on the alms of others. In front of the bright, open sky and the vast landscape, the boy has stopped to let himself be captured by the painter. The entire staging is reminiscent of portraits of rulers of the time - a clever play by the Spanish painter.
In a small black bag the beggar carries his possessions. His tattered clothes are old and testify to his poverty. The boy does not wear shoes either. Everyone is allowed to see what nature has given him. From this gesture speaks the hope to secure the sympathy of the environment with this display position.
The boy's posture is nevertheless upright and his face shows a broad smile. Even though the rings around his eyes, his teeth and his clothes indicate a hard life, the boy shows a certain pride. His direct gaze to the viewer betrays no shyness.
In his left hand he also holds a piece of paper with the Latin inscription: "Give me alms for the love of God" and possibly this trust in God is exactly the reason for his liberated and friendly laughter.
Jusepe de Ribera - The Clubfoot
Oil on canvas, 1642, 93.5 x 164 cm, Louvre in Paris