Ricci, Sebastian

, an artist of temporary fame, was born at Belluno, near Trevisano, in 1659; and having discovered an early genius for painting, was conducted by his father to Venice, and placed as a disciple with Fred. Cervelli, a Milanese artist of good reputation, with whom he studied for nine years. He afterwards improved his practice at Bologna, &c. by copying, and obtained the favour and patronage of Rannuccio, the second duke of Parma. By the liberality of that prince, he was honourably maintained at Rome, studying the productions of the best ancient and modern masters; and there he formed that manner which distinguishes his productions, and for a while raised him into the highest esteem. Having quitted Rome, he returned to Venice, where he was so eagerly solicited for his paintings, that he had scarcely time to take even necessary refreshment. His fame spread through Europe, and he received an invitation to the court of the emperor at Vienna, to adorn the magnificent palace of Schoenbrun. From thence he was encouraged to visit London, where he was immediately and incessantly employed by the court, the nobility, and persons of fortune. Here he remained ten years, with his nephew and coadjutor, IVfarco Ricci, who painted skilfully scenes of architecture and landscape at Burlington house and Bulstrode. He acquired great wealth by the immense occupation he found; and then returned to Venice, where he remained until his death, in 1734, in the seventy-fifth year of his. age.

Ricci was one of the few, comparatively speaking, who enjoy during their lives the utmost extent of their fame. In his history, that portion of renown which attaches to | him died with him, or nearly so. In fact, he w*s a machinist, one who, being conversant in the rules of art, and skilful in the application of the means, dazzled where he could not instruct, anJ deluded by ingenuity without judgment, and art without expression. His works are to be found in many of our great houses, as well as those of his nephew. At Chelsea, where he painted the altar-piece, and at the British Museum, there are considerable pictures of his painting, but they do not rise in esteem by continued observation; and yet, unfortunately, they had sufficient influence in their day to lead the artists astray from the contemplation and imitation of the works of Raphael, and the greater masters of the Italian school. Walpole informs us that Sebastian excelled particularly in imitations of Paul Veronese, many of which he sold for originals; and once deceived even La Fosse. When the latter was convinced of the imposition, he gave this severe but just reprimand to Sebastian: “For the future take my advice j paint no* thing but Paul Veroneses, and no more Riccis.” Lord Orford adds that Ricci left England on finding it determined “that sir James Thqrnhill should paint the cupola, of St. Paul’s.1

1 Pilkington. Wai pole’s Anecdqtes. Rees’s Cyclopædia,