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Sebastiano Ricci (1659 - 1734)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Sebastiano Ricci was born in Belluno, Italy in 1659. At the age of 12 he moved to Venice, where he was apprenticed to the Milanese artist Federico Cervelli. In 1681 Ricci left Venice for Bologna – he had briefly been imprisoned for trying to poison a woman he had made pregnant, but was released following the intervention of a noble supporter. He remained in Bologna until 1685, and over the next twenty years worked in several other Italian cities including Parma, Rome, Milan, Venice again, and Florence.

Ricci had already spent time in Vienna executing a ceiling painting for the Schloss Schönbrun before he came to England either 1711 or early 1712 in the hope of being commissioned to paint the dome of St. Paul’s. Sir James Thornhill won this commission but Juliana, Dowager Countess of Burlington, (mother of the 3rd Earl of Burlington) was quick to employ Sebastiano in the decoration of Burlington House in about 1713. He executed four paintings on the theme of the triumph of love.

Ricci stayed in England for four years, during which time he also painted the Resurrection for the chapel ceiling of the Chelsea Royal Hospital. In 1716 the artist and his nephew Marco (also an artist, and a frequent collaborator) returned to Venice via Paris, where the Riccis were both admitted to the Académie de France and Sebastiano submitted an Allegory of France as his morceau de reception (similar to a Diploma Work).

Returning to Venice as an internationally celebrated artist, Ricci settled in a grand apartment and executed commissions including mosaic designs for Venice’s famous San Marco cathedral, and important altarpieces for Venetian churches. A significant part of Ricci’s work consisted of religious paintings, but he is chiefly remembered for his decorative paintings drawings upon classical mythology, which bridge the late Baroque and the Rococo style of Watteau and Fragonard.

Profile

Born: 1659

Died: 1734

Nationality: Italian

Gender: Male

Works by Sebastiano Ricci in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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