The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Martín Rico y Ortega, 1833-1908

Nationality: Spanish
Date of Birth: 1833.11.12
Place of Birth: Madrid
Date of Death: 1908.04.03
Place of Death: Venice, Italy


Martín Rico y Ortega was a genre painter and engraver. His brother was the engraver Bernardino Rico.


Rico studied under his brother and at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de S Fernando in Madrid under Jenaro Pérez Villaamil. His sketchbooks, filled during trips to Paris, Switzerland and Britain, show the influence of J. M. W. Turner's landscape paintings. Rico was also influenced by the works of the Barbizon school and the paintings of Charles-François Daubigny. He exhibited at the Expositions Universelles in Paris in 1878 and 1889, as well as at the Paris Salon and at the Exposición Nacional in Madrid where he was awarded a number of medals. He became the artistic director of the journal Ilustración Española y Americana.

Rico settled in Venice in 1871, remaining there until his death. There he met JW in 1880. According to Otto Bacher, Rico was called upon by JW at this date, along with Cecil van Haanen, Henry Woods, Frank Duveneck, Ralph W. Curtis and Bacher himself, to judge between the works of the Russian artist Roussoff and those of JW. Rico's own works of this period were rich in colour and heavy in impasto, e.g. View of Venice (ca 1872; Prado, Madrid), quite different to the delicate pastels and etchings being executed by JW.


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice, London, 2001; Vazquez, Oscar E., 'Martín Rico y Ortega', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 5 March 2003).