Born in El Escorial in Madrid in 1833, Martin Rico y Ortega was educated at the San Fernando School and soon after graduating he took to painting out of doors and traveling widely throughout Spain. The young artist won a government scholarship to study outside of his native country in Paris, where he was influenced by Charles François Daubigny and other artists of the Barbizon School. In 1870, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the artist returned to Spain. In 1872, in the company of fellow Spaniard Mariano Fortuny y Carbo, Rico traveled to to Italy, where he was enthralled by the grandeur of Venice. Even after his return to Paris in 1879, the artist continued to spend his summers in Venice, renting a palazzo where he painted scenes of his beloved city. He would often work sitting in a gondola, sketching the buildings and bridges as seen from the water.
In 1878, the art critic Paul Lefort wrote of Rico in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts: 'Although a fanatic when it comes to light, and an
aficionado of rare and augmented color tonalities which, in his works, resemble precious stones, he refrains from overstepping the limits of human vision the Grand Canal of Venice, the Slaves' Wharf, his views of Rome, of Toledo, of the Escorial and of Granada are inimitable morceaux which reveal his talents in composition as well as his care in execution' (quoted in Carlos Gonzalez and Montse Marti, Spanish Painters in Rome, 1850-1900, Madrid, 1987, pp. 182-3).
This work has been examined and authenticated by Mrs. Claude Rico.