Executed circa 1706-07 while Ricci was resident in Florence, this well-preserved, recently rediscovered canvas is a fine example of the artist’s fluid, painterly approach to painting. Such works found tremendous appeal at the highest levels of Florentine society, having been appreciated by such patrons as Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, who turned to the artist for a number of important commissions in the period. While in Florence, Ricci came into contact with Alessandro Magnasco, whose fantastical scenes conceived largely in earth tones with touches of local colors heavily influenced Ricci’s own work.
Ricci treated the present subject on a number of occasions, often repeating motifs. In an upright painting dating to the same period painted in collaboration with Antonio Peruzzini (Hermitage, St. Petersburg), Ricci again deployed the figure seen here on all fours as well as the reclining figure of Saint Anthony, his right arm extended, cross in hand, in an effort to keep the monstrous figures at bay. These same two figures also feature in a painting of this subject in the Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice. Similarly, the centaur holding a tambourine in the present painting can likewise be found in the version sold Sotheby’s, London, 14 April 2011, lot 173.