FUNDRAISER. The Most Famous Dogs in Spanish Fine Arts History

This event is a Visual Presentation and Lecture about the Greatest Works of Spanish Art that Include Dogs.
.. * How did we come to love and respect dogs in Western culture?
* Who were the artists that elevated the dog to a position of respect?
* What pictorial information does a dog in a painting represent?


In this class, students will explore the complete works of Diego Velázquez's as well as his time in history as the most prestigious court painter for Spain's Habsburg King - Philip IV. Students will discover why he became the leader of the Spanish Baroque period and is still celebrated as Spain's most revolutionary portrait painter today. 


When I lived in Xàtiva back in 2001, the town where my husband was born, I walked by the statue of José de Ribera everyday. Our apartment was on the same street as the Basilica and the old hospital, where my husband was born, and at the other end was the statue of José de Ribera or Jusepe as he is know in the Valencian language.

José de Ribera was also born in Xàtiva but in 1591. His father's name was Simón Ribera, a shoemaker by profession, and his mother was Margarita Cucó. While there are many documentary and bibliographical sources detailing many aspects of Ribera's life and work, there is nothing about his childhood and youth in Xàtiva.

Report by Karla Darocas (

No doubt that Xàtiva would have been a very inspirational place to grow up in, for a youth with a talent for drawing and painting. The city at this time was the second most important place in the Valencian province and it was full of churches and convents with masterful altarpieces.

At the age of apprenticeship, 15 years or so, Ribera left Xàtiva to move to Valencia city where he had relatives. Here he was entered into the workshop of the Catalonian master painter Francisco Ribaltá, who was the first follower in Spain of the austere tenebrist style Caravaggio, without ever visiting the land of his hero, Italy.

Ribera had other plans and in 1611, at only 19 years, Ribera found himself in the cradle of Caravaggio. Once in Italy, where he was already a highly regarded painter, Ribera never wanted to return to Spain.

This is not to say that he was not always proud to be Valenciano, because on occasion he would sign his paintings with the term "Setabense", referring to people who populated the ancient Iberian city (Pre-Roman) of Setabis, which of course became Xàtiva.

After a few years in Rome as a member of the Academy of San Lucas, an association of artists in Rome founded in 1577, under the directorship of Federico Zuccari, with the purpose of elevating the work of all "artists" included painters, sculptors and architects, above that of mere craftsmen, Ribera moved to Naples in 1616.

Under the protection of the Crown of Spain, Naples proved to be his destiny. Here he married Catalina Azzolino, daughter of a wealthy dealer and painter, with whom he had at least five children.

Ribera soon rose to great fame and activity painting works for religious patrons as well as the nobles such as the Dukes of Osuna, Monterrey and Alba.

Driven by a deep interest and study of Antiquity and the Renaissance, Ribera blew minds with his great mastery of drawing, painting and etching.

Today, viewers are still amazed at the photographic reality of his paintings and find it hard to believe that it was with vigorous brush strokes and not a camera that captured the emotions, feelings and affections of his characters.

His faith in humanity elevated the poorest and humblest people in the street to stardom in his paintings as models for saints, philosophers, and prophets, giving them intelligence and cordiality.

It is a know fact that skin tone and hands are the hardest to paint, but not for Ribera. No one like him has been able to show the qualities of the skin, the molding of the face and hands, human decrepitude and the representation of the old.

A consequence of the prevailing influence of classical Roman  and Greek mythology culture, Ribera found a plethora of subjects to paint that pushed his talents to the maximum showcasing to the world that the realm of beauty to depths of the grotesque were all fair game to his brush.

Of course his biggest client was the Catholic Church who contracted his super realistic works as powerful propaganda for their Counter-Reformation efforts.

To this day, Xàtiva remembers Ribera with a proud sculpture by Luis Gilabert (1891) in the Plaza del Españoleto, where the health clinic of the same name is also located. There is also the José de Ribera Secondary School as well as two paintings in the Casa de l'Ensenyança - Museu de Belles Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) Xàtiva. There are also two institutional art awards named after the local hero: the national painting and the biennial of engraving.

El Salvador by Ribera at the Casa de l'Ensenyança - Museu de Belles Arts Xàtiva

JOSÉ de RIBERA: The Renaissance Master of Grace and Grandeur

This class will cover the complete works of José de Ribera, along with the history of the artist and his times. Ribera is considered one of the finest late Spanish Renaissance painters who didn't even live in Spain.

Ribera was born in Xativa, near Valencia as Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652). He studied with the Valencian painter, Francisco Ribalta (1565-1628) before heading to Italy; first Parma, Padua, and probably Venice and then Rome from 1613-16.


In this class, students will learn how Spain in the late 1400'a and all of the 1500's century grew both politically and economically making it viable to construct remarkable buildings. Explored will be the details of the different styles that evolved as well as the motivations and philosophies, even secrets and scandals, behind their developments.


Recently released by Fine Arts Historian Karla Darocas, Hons. B. A., it is a beautiful glossy detailed guidebook about the history and architecture of this coastal town with stunning photos and information starting in the 11th century up to the 17th century.

THE LURE OF THE LIGHT * Joaquín Sorolla

20th Century Spanish painter, Sorolla excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes.  His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the bright sunlight of his native Valencia and sunlit water.

This class has all of Sorolla's most famous artworks explained plus also a special emphasis on the unique elements and techniques of Spanish Impressionism and the remarkable artworks from his holidays in Xàbia  / Jávea.


Taught only once a year, so make sure you are on the Notices Lists... JOIN HERE


Benissa is one of those hidden treasure towns that resides on the Costa Blanca. You must find the parking lot on the backside of the town, get out of your car and begin your journey.


There is a monument in Jávea, right around the corner to the main square, that has slipped into disrepair and abandonment, and yet it is a remarkable piece of historical and architectural value. This is the monument that no one in Jávea ever talks about, but why?


The most consistently reproduced subject in all of art history, especially Western art, is the theme of the Mother and Child. The earliest recorded representation and most recognised Mother and Child is the Byzantine icon of Mary and Jesus. These icon paintings were worshipped by both Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Picasso was raised Catholic and knew the emotive power of the Mother and Child image. These works throughout his life are some of my favourites. They are all different, depending on what visual form he was experimenting with. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of them and contemplate Picasso’s diverse styles added to this powerful, universal theme of Mother and Child.