Martin Rico y Ortega
1833-1908 | Spanish
A Canal in Venice
Signed "Rico" (lower left)
Oil on canvas
Spanish artist Martin Rico y Ortega captures a charming view of a canal in Venice in this oil on canvas. The artist's portrayals of the legendary City of Water are celebrated for both their unique vantage points and vibrant color, two qualities that are fully realized in the present work. Not only is his intricate attention to detail on display in the reflections of the water and the architectural detail, but Rico y Ortega's remarkable skill at capturing the personality and atmosphere of time and place is also revealed. A very similar view of a Venetian canal by Rico y Ortega is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).
Rico y Ortega was born in El Escorial, Madrid, where he received his formal education at the San Fernando School. Soon after graduating, he began studying plein air composition, traveling throughout Spain for his artistic inspiration. His efforts paid off when he won a government-sponsored scholarship to study art in Paris, where he was influenced by the Barbizon School.
He traveled to Italy in 1872, where he became fascinated by the splendor of Venice. From that moment on, he spent numerous summers living in Venice, sketching buildings and landscapes from a gondola. In 1878, he won the third-place medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle and was also made an officer of the French Legion of Honor. That same year, art critic Paul Lefort wrote of Rico y Ortega in La Gazette des Beaux-Arts: “Although a fanatic when it comes to light, and an aficionado of rare and augmented color 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 morceaux which reveal his talents in composition as well as his care in execution.”
Canvas: 29" high x 18 1/2" wide
Frame: 41 1/2" high x 31 5/8" wide
Private collection, Long Island, New York
Private collection, Louisiana