MARTIN RICO Y ORTEGA
VENETIAN CANAL (PONTE STORTO)
Signed 'Rico' bottom center left, oil on panel
14 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. (35.9 x 23.5cm)
Private Collection, Pennsylvania.
Born in Madrid during a tumultuous time in Spain's history, Martin Rico y Ortega spent much of his early and mid-career in Paris, later settling in Venice for the remainder of his life. Initially trained by his brother, an engraver, he also studied landscape painting at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Through his teacher Jenaro Pérez Villaamil (1807-1854), he was introduced to the works of British artist John Constable (1776-1837) and Barbizon painters, which he met later in Paris. Their practice of painting en plein-air, and their focus on depicting everyday life greatly influenced the artist. After his career blossomed in Paris, Rico y Ortega relocated to Venice in the 1870s, deeply affected by the city's environs and the distinctive Venetian light that inspired so many others before him. His style draws from numerous influences, including seemingly opposing Impressionism and photographic realism. While living and working in Venice he painted a myriad of cityscapes, such as the present lot. The famed canal is prominently depicted here, complete with the charming and tell-tale signifiers of Venice, notably the gondolas and gondoliers, architectural details, and the bridges which span the waterway. Women with vibrant red fans mill about on the bridge, and a gondolier departs with a couple for a leisurely ride on the canal. The blue of the sky and whites and grays of the clouds reflect brilliantly in the water's surface. A picturesque view of the beloved Italian city, the canvas reveals Rico y Ortega's deep affinity for it, and skillful ability to capture it on the panel.