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]