Saturday, June 29, 2013

Martin Rico

Martin Rico y Ortega
I first encountered Spanish artist Martin Rico y Ortega, known more simply as Martin Rico, in the form of his beautiful pen and ink drawings, reproduced in a volume titled: Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen: A Classic Survey of the Medium and Its Masters.

Rico’s pen drawings, like his paintings, were often of architectural subjects, which he handled with a finesse and aplomb that immediately made him one of my favorite pen and ink artists.

(The, book, by the way, if a treasure for anyone interested in classic pen and ink drawing. There is a facsimile on Project Gutenburg that can act as a kind of vague preview, but the reproductions of the drawings are small and of poor quality. I haven’t seen the new Dover edition, but their recent track record gives me confidence that they have done a respectful job.)

I later was equally impressed with Rico’s paintings, which are resplendent with light, color and texture, particularly a series in which he captured the transcendent beauty of Venice — to my mind, better than anyone since Canaletto.

Rico often worked en plein air, even in Venice, where he painted from gondolas tied at the quays, as well as from the window of his room. I don’t know enough about Rico’s methods to know if he finished his larger works in the studio, but he certainly captured the reality of the light.

Rico traveled Europe extensively, where he painted the countryside as well as urban scenes. He lived in Paris for several years, returned to his native Spain for a time, and eventually settled in Venice.

A recent retrospective, organized by the Prado in Madrid and the Meadows Museum in Dallas, had its run at the Prado earlier this year, and is only at the Meadows Museum until July 7, 2013. If features 106 works.

For those of us who can’t get to the show in person, there is a catalog: Impressions of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Vistas by Martin Rico. I can’t find in on Amazon and the only online ordering I can find on the Meadows Museum is to order by phone or email. (Ths Spanish language version can be ordered from the Prado shop. James Gurney reviews the catalog here.

The Meadows only has a few tiny images from the show online. The Prado does much batter, with an extensive (though awkward to use) slide show with enlargements. There is also a video overview, narrated in Spanish but with English subtitles available (click on word balloon in control bar).

There are three high resolution images on the site of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (listed below) as well as one in the Google Art Project Google Cultural Institute: Art Project.

[Via Gurney Journey]

3 thoughts on “Martin Rico

  1. Lorette

    Painting #9: Patio del palacio de los Dux de Venecia/ Courtyard of the Palace of the Dux of Venice (1883), belongs to the collection of the largest bank in the Eurozone, Santander!

  2. Mark P

    Wow, I tend to not go overboard in flattery, by nature, but, this guy is a living master if I know anything about what I am speaking of. His paintings have a beauty and potency that outdoes any photo of the canals I have personally seen. These paintings could be “better” than being there, viewing these scenes in person!(In a manner of speaking) My heart is involved when I view works such as these. I will have to view larger as there is so much to take in. It’s my belief that by plein air these works are started on scene for the inspiration/impression but I wouldn’t think it be anything easy to paint like this alla prima but…what do I know of painting like this from my own experience. This is the stuff that has me wishing I were more ambitious about making large amounts of cash. We’ll, there are always prints to be considered.

    Thanks for highlighting this master artist!

  3. Jeff

    I just lucked out discovering this artist via a gorgeous Spanish language edition of the book in a 2nd hand bookshop on a recent trip to Melbourne Australia. It instantly enters the top 10 of my Art book collection. The oil sketch is often shown with the finished work and also pencil sketch. Every finished painting includes figures and these artfully bring the viewer into the picture, light is expertly captured and brushwork is joyfully vigorous.

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