RICCI, Sebastiano
(b. 1659, Belluno, d. 1734, Venezia)


Italian decorative painter. He was born in Belluno and is considered a member of the Venetian school, but before he settled in Venice in 1717 he led a peripatetic life, working in numerous Italian cities (Bologna, Rome, Modena, Florence, and Parma) before going to Vienna where he worked in the Schönbrunn Palace. In 1712 he went to England with his nephew, Marco Ricci. They left in 1716, after Sebastiano failed to get the commissions to decorate the dome of St Paul's and Hampton Court Palace. He returned to Venice, and on the way home he stopped in Paris and visited Watteau, some of whose drawings he copied.

His unsettled existence is a reflection not only of the demand for his talents but also of his penchant for illicit love affairs, which often led to his having to move in haste, and once almost resulted in his execution. In view of this it is not surprising that his work is uneven and sometimes shows signs of carelessness, but he had a gift for vivid, fresh colouring, and his itinerant career was important in spreading knowledge of Italian decorative painting.

Little of the decorative work he did in England survives except the Resurrection in the apse of the Chelsea Hospital Chapel and some large but damaged canvases on the staircase at Burlington House (now the Royal Academy).