Marco Ricci

Marco Ricci, was a North Italian painter of the Baroque period, who also worked in England; before returning to Venice until his death.

Working in oils, and later gouache on goats-skin and also etching; Marco’s accomplishments were important in the subsequent development of 18th century Venetian landscape and capriccio painting.

Painters such as Canaletto (1697-1768) and the Guardi (1712-1793) drew upon his subtle and varied light effects and his masterful combination of real and imaginary elements.


Marco Ricci by Rosalba Carriera Watercolour on Ivory. (c 1724)


Marco Ricci,

(b. 6th June, 1676 – d. 21st January, 1730)

Portrait miniature, painted in watercolour on ivory; by Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757).

Inscribed on the reverse ‘The Portrait of Marco Ricci/by Rosalba’. About 1724.







Marco Ricci – LIFE

Marco Ricci was born on the 6th June, 1676, at Belluno; a town and province in the Veneto region, located about 100 kilometres north of Venice.

He received his earliest training in Venice from his uncle Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734), who had returned to the city in 1696. Marco’s principal training, however, was not as a figure painter and from the beginning, he is likely to have had contact with the few, primarily foreign, landscape and view painters then active in Venice.

Equally important in his formation, was his study of Titian’s landscape paintings and drawings; as recounted by the biographer Zanetti.

Painting by Marco RicciThroughout his life he made annual sketching trips to Belluno, to refresh his memory of actual landscape settings.

Little is known for certain about Marco’s earliest career, but he appears to have begun collaborating with Sebastiano and may have accompanied his uncle to Milan and Rome.

Early sources recounted that Marco killed a gondolier in a drunken brawl and was forced to flee Venice.

He is reported to have studied with an unnamed landscape painter in Dalmatia, but this may have been in fact Antonio Francesco Peruzzini of Ancona (c. 1668-?); a landscape painter known to have worked with Sebastiano, in Bologna and Milan.


Above: Marco Ricci – “Landscape with River and Figures” (c 1720)


Scholars have long seen an initial influence from Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), in Marco’s earliest landscapes and it may have been Peruzzini who first introduced Marco to the art of Salvator Rosa. It has also been suggested that Marco travelled to Naples, with a stop in Rome; to study among Rosa’s school.

On the other hand, some have questioned the influence of Rosa and seen much of Marco’s early landscape style, coming from northern artists; such as Johan Anton Eismann (c. 1613-1698) and especially Pietro Mulier.

In 1706-1707, Marco and Sebastiano worked together on the decoration of Palazzo Marucelli in Florence. It may have been at this time, or perhaps earlier in Milan, that Marco first encountered the Genoese painter Alessandro Magnasco (1667-1749); with whom he is known to have collaborated on occasion.



In 1708, after a brief return to Venice, Marco travelled with fellow Venetian Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini (1675-1749) to England; but thought to have made a detour, via the Netherlands and Paris. This trip was possibly made made through the prompting of Charles Montagu, 4th Earl of Manchester and British ambassador to Venice.

Painting by Marco Ricci - "The Waterfall"Once in England, he collaborated with Pellegrini; in the staging of Italian works at the Queen’s Theatre in Haymarket. They painted stage scenery for two Italian operas, “Pyrrhus and Demetrius” by Alessandro Scarlatti and Nicola Haym and “Camilla”, by Antonio Maria Bononcini and Silvio Stampiglia; with English libretti by Owen McSwiney.

Together with Pellegrini, he executed six large mythological canvases for Burlington House.

After what was thought to be a dispute with Pellegrini, Marco returned to Venice in 1711 and brought his uncle back to London with him; perhaps in hopes of securing the lucrative commission for the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Marco produced landscapes and other vedute, for the English market and continued to collaborate with his uncle. They returned to Venice in 1715-1716, probably together, by way of Paris and the Netherlands; where Marco had stopped on previous journeys.

Left: Marco Ricci – “The Waterfall”




The period from 1716 until his death, was one of intense activity, during which Marco collaborated frequently with Sebastiano and expanded the sphere of his own activity to include gouaches on goats-skin and etchings.

Important patrons of Ricci in Venice, were Consul Smith and Zanetti the Elder.

Although he continued to paint other landscape subjects, Marco seems to have turned increasingly to depictions of ruins; populated with small figures sometimes painted by Sebastiano. These paintings do not represent actual archaeological sites, but are “capriccios” composed from a repertory of elements: obelisks, pyramids, sections of temples and colonnades, fallen architectural elements, statues, funeral urns and vases. Such elements are often arranged in planes, or as a screen in the middle ground; with views into luminous distances, reflecting his frequent work for the stage.

Marco is known to have begun painting ruins quite early in his career and it has been argued that his conception of ruins depended upon direct experience of Rome and its monuments.

From 1723 onward, Marco Ricci etched plates from his own designs, consisting of views and landscapes, with ruins and figures; including a notable set of twenty-three prints, which anticipate Piranesi.

Like his uncle Sebastiano, in history painting, Marco’s accomplishments were important in the subsequent development of 18th century Venetian landscape and capriccio painting.

Left: Marco Ricci “Fantastic scene with Ruins” Gouache on Goats-skin


Painters such as Canaletto (1697-1768) and the Guardi drew upon his subtle and varied light effects and his masterful combination of real and imaginary elements.

He died on the 21st January, 1730 in Venice. Among his pupils were Domenico and Giuseppe Valeriani.










Right: A village with farm buildings on the far bank of a river in which two men operate a punt; two cows in the foreground at the right. (1743) Etching

Left: Antique buildings with columns and porticos, at the right a statue of a lion on a pedestal. (c. 1735?) Etching



Please see my introductory post, on the Second Golden Age of Art: together with its most important artists: 

 Venetian Artists-18th Century

Foreign Artists working in Venice

Turner in Venice         Whistler in Venice

Monet in Venice


Marco Ricci’s etchings at the Royal Academy website, London


Marco Ricci    Marco Ricci    Marco Ricci    Marco Ricci    Marco Ricci


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