Considered a definitive 19th century painter of scenes of the immortal city of Venice, alongside American Thomas Moran and Peruvian Federico del Campo, Spanish artist Martin Rico y Ortega mastered light qualities within his romantic real-life compositions. Born in Madrid, he would later make his home in Paris, and annually summered on the northwest Italian shore. It was the canals, architecture and people of the ancient city which inspired Rico to his greatest works.
At first Rico gained wide recognition in his homeland at a young age, winning a government scholarship after his formal studies at the San Fernando school in Madrid. On scholarship, he traveled to Paris and came under the influence of the Barbizon School and the innovation of Charles-Francois Daubigny. He later toured Italy in the company of Mariano Fortuny in 1872, and established ties which brought him to the city numerous times over the next 33 years.
Rico captured the essence of the city not through exaggeration, but with warm depictions of its unique locales. His bright, luminous works were often painted while he traveled the city’s waterways by gondola, selecting the best views from a waterborne perspective. As Venice was a cultural destination for almost all international 19TH century travel of tourists and artists alike, Rico’s work proved as successful commercially as artistically.