marco ricci
(1676 Belluno – 1729 Venice)

A Hilly Landscape with Two Horsemen. Etching. 28.5 x 35.8 cm. Pilo 201. Watermark: Tre Lune.

Marco Ricci, the founder of 18th-century Venetian landscape painting, dedicated himself relatively late to the art of etching. His first attempts in this technique were made about 1723, and he soon attained complete mastery of the medium. Nevertheless, no editions of his printed work were published during Ricci’s lifetime, and it was not until 1730 that the Venetian publisher Carlo Orsolino posthumously brought out a set of twenty landscapes entitled Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta ... (Bartsch XXI, 313, 1–20). Thanks to the researches of Giuseppe Maria Pilo, who discovered previously unknown trial proofs by Ricci in the possession of the Remondini Collection in Bassano’s Museo Civico in the early 1960s, the printed œuvre has been considerably extended, so that the catalogue of Ricci’s extant works now comprises a total of thirty-three sheets.

The present rare etching was first published by A. Petrucci in 1946 (“Le pazze invenzioni di Marco Ricci e una sua acquaforte ignorata”, Arti Figurative, 3–4, 1946, pp. 200–208). In iconographical and stylistic terms this etching is closely related to the landscapes of the canonical series of 1730. The print is done in a similarly gracious and fluid etching technique, and the landscape with its characteristic, wind-tossed trees and the effectively inserted staffage figures are in full accord with the artist’s usual composition schemes. It is not known why the print was not included in the set. The copperplate later came into the pos­session of the Venetian engraver Marco Pitteri, who published the etching with a dedication to his painter friend Giambattista Piazzetta. The print is extremely rare. In 1983 Dario Succi was aware of the existence of only two impressions, one belonging to a private collector in Rome and the second in the collection of the Royal Library, Windsor Castle (Da Carlevarijs ai Tiepolo. Incisori veneti e friulani del Settecento, Gorizia-Venice 1983, p. 331). More recently another impression was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
A very fine, clear and harmonious impression with narrow margins around the platemark. Minor signs of ageing, verso somewhat ink-stained and with unobtrusive, flattened creases which are not visible on the recto, otherwise in very good condition.