Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734)
Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734)

A Bacchanal

Details
Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734)
A Bacchanal
oil on canvas
31 x 41¼in. (78.8 x 104.9cm.)
Provenance
Paul Delaroff; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 23-4 April 1914, lot 63.
Dr. Alfred Bredius.

Lot Essay

This previously unpublished Bacchanal is a major addition to the corpus of Ricci's work. Its history is unknown before it appeared in the collection of Paul Delaroff; it was subsequently sold with a pendant (lot 64, 'La Fete du Printemps. Des amours jouent avec une chevre; tandis que d'autres suspendent des guirlandes à un vase: des faunes ébauchent des idylles avec le nymphes'; now lost) at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris in 1914, where it was catalogued as the work of the French painter Jean Dumont le Romain (1701-1781). It was later in the collection of the distinguished Rembrandt scholar Alfred Bredius (d. 1946); remarkably, Ricci's distinctive and easily identified hand went unrecognized.

Ricci painted bacchanals often throughout his career, and the subject had been a favorite of Venetian painters since the Renaissance, notably Titian, whose famous Bacchus and Ariadne (National Gallery, London), Bacchanal of the Andrians and Venus Worship (both Museo del Prado, Madrid) date from the early 1520s and were widely copied and imitated. Ricci was well-travelled, with a remarkably broad visual culture on which to draw, and his art displays a wealth of references to other painters of his own and earlier times. If his favorite painters were Titian and Veronese, the present painting owes a greater debt to Carlo Carpioni -- who made bacchic subjects something of a speciality -- and Luca Giordano, whose rapid, thickly impasted brushwork Ricci here emulates.

The painting -- which is broadly self-assured in handling and sophisticated in its decentralized, rococo composition -- would seem to be a mature work datable to the second decade of the century or shortly thereafter. The painting is similar in handling to The Battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths (circa 1715; private collection, Milan; see J. Daniels, Sebastiano Ricci, 1976, no. 235, fig. 3) although its composition is less agitated. It is this period, circa 1712-7, that Ricci spent working in England where he executed commissions for Chelsea Hospital Chapel and Burlington House in London, the latter including a vast mural depicting The Meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne (in situ). Any suggestion that the present picture was made during Ricci's English sojurn must remain speculative due to the absence of documentation, but the fact the the picture carries a fine English frame from the early 18th century lends the theory credibility.
;

More from Important Old Master Paintings

View All
View All