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Marco Ricci (Belluno 1676-Venice 1730)

Landscape with Cattle and a Woman Speaking to a Seated Man c.1725-30

Oil on canvas | 73.9 x 125.8 cm | RCIN 401005

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This painting is from a set of four of similar size and date. However, they do not form a close-knit group. Much larger than his tempera paintings, they are Marco’s highest achievement in landscape painting at this late stage in his career. With their rivers, hill towns and dramatic mountains in the distance, the views recall Titian’s landscapes. It was this type of landscape, with its pale pink tonality, that was to have such an impact on Francesco Zuccarelli.

Marco included carefully arranged motifs to create rigorously balanced compositions that lead the viewer on a journey through the landscape. His awareness of the way in which atmospheric conditions can transform a landscape are evident in the subtle transitions of light across each view. Here, the season seems to be autumn, the foliage of the foreground tree a deep orange and the pale pink clouds in the evening sky suggesting the end of summer. In the far distance a village is illuminated by the evening sun. Marco’s familiarity with the countryside around Belluno thus enabled him to create imaginary landscapes that are also strikingly real.

The ‘Italian List’ describes this series of paintings as ‘beautiful landscapes, the figures by the uncle’. While by now Marco could imitate Sebastiano’s figure style, since they had been collaborating for years, it seems that Sebastiano did contribute a few figures, and the woman with the child here are by Sebastiano. These two figures also appear in Marco’s related drawing (RCIN 991136), which was made as a finished work of art in its own right. The way in which Sebastiano’s figures are incorporated so seamlessly into each of Marco’s landscapes reveals how closely uncle and nephew worked together.

Text adapted from Canaletto & the Art of Venice, 2017.