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Marco Ricci (Belluno 1676-Venice 1730)

Nicola Grimaldi and Lucia Facchinelli 1728

Pen and ink | 18.2 x 24.4 cm | RCIN 907288

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A pen and ink caricature of two singers in costume. A male singer in Oriental costume imploring a female singer, who faces away. Dated at the upper right corner, 1728.

The drawing belongs to an album of operatic caricatures mainly by Marco Ricci and Anton Maria Zanetti the Elder, an intact album from the library of Joseph Smith. Zanetti and another Venetian collector, Francesco Algarotti, owned similar albums, with many of the caricatures copied or traced, with identifying inscriptions. Zanetti's album is now in the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, and Algarotti's belongs to Albert Gellman and is in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Opera was an important part of Venetian society and culture, and such caricatures were circulated among friends and collectors for light-hearted amusement.

The singers in this drawing were identified by Enrico Lucchese in 2015 as the castrato Nicola Grimaldi (1673-1732), known as 'Nicolino', and the soprano Lucia Facchinelli known as 'La Becheretta'. Both singers performed in Leonardo Lalli's Argeno at the theatre of San Grisostomo in 1728, where Joseph Smith kept a box. Grimaldi is in the costume of the Chinese Emperor Argeno, with Facchinelli as his daughter.