Venice

by Martin Rico Y Ortega

P.O.A.

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 18 x 24 inches (45.7 x 61 cm)
SIGNATURE: Signed (lower left)
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

 

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    This depiction of a Venetian canal glows with golden light. The viewpoint from which Rico would have made his preliminary sketch for this painting would be a bridge along the Rio della Panada during travels to Venice in 1879. The MET wrote of a painting in their collection which Rico made from the same original sketch: ‘The architecture of the Palazzo Soranzo-Van Axel is enlivened by the small boys playing along the canal, who are wittily echoed by the sculptures of dancing putti on the garden wall. Rico’s interest in light and atmosphere is evident in his depiction of the colored shadows on the buildings and the reflections in the water. He was born and trained in Spain and studied in Paris, but found a signature subject in the Venetian cityscape.’

    Private collection, United States

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    Martin Rico Y Ortega was born in Madrid on 12 November 1833 and died in Venice on 13 April 1908. He was a friend of the French landscape painter Charles-Francois Daubigny and was one of the first Spanish artists to paint his subjects in situ. In 1872, accompanied by Mariano Fortuny, he toured Italy, where he became impressed by the splendour of Venice and he captured the architecture and light in innumerable paintings, such as this one.

    From 1879, by which time he had made Paris his permanent home, Ortega spent his summers in Venice, renting a palazzo in which to paint. He would often work sitting in a gondola sketching buildings and bridges as seen from the water. In 1878, the art critic Paul Lefort wrote of Ortega in La Gazette des Beaux-Arts: “Although a fanatic when it comes to light and an aficionado of rare and augmented colour tonalities which in his works resemble precious stones, he refrains from overstepping the limits of human vision. The Grand Canal of Venice, the Slaves Wharf, his views of Rome, of Toledo, of the Escorial and of Granada are [.] inimitable morsels which reveal his talents in composition as well as his care in execution” (quoted in Carlos Gonzalez and Montse Marti, Spanish Painters in Rome 1850-1900, Madrid, 1987, pp182-3).

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