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

Madonna and Child with Saints

Oil on canvas, 406 x 208 cm
San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

This has to be one of the most cheerful altarpieces of the whole eighteenth century. It was directly inspired by Veronese's Sacra Conversazione but the subject is reinvented with a freshness and exquisite coloration that are spectacularly effective. It was commissioned for a side altar in the church designed by Palladio. It is carefully composed using rising diagonal lines that shift the viewer's attention toward the left of the picture, that is to say toward the Madonna and Child. This geometrical rigor (which is disguised by the apparent immediacy of an action-packed scene) also helps to overcome the tricky problem of having so many figures packed into a fairly small space.