Rico made his name and fortune capturing Venice's elegant architecture and magical setting, his works celebrating the grand facades of the city's most majestic structures along the Grand Canal and its surrounding waterways. He first travelled to Italy in 1872 in the company of the painter Mariano Fortuny. His fascination with light soon led Rico to Venice where he quickly established himself as a hugely able painter of the city's finest views, in what was a very competitive genre. In 1878 he exhibited over sixteen of his Venetian vistas at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Awarded highest honours and the Légion d'honneur, such critical success afforded him financial security, and allowed him to spend virtually every summer in Venice thereafter. There he would rent a palazzo and work from a floating studio installed on a gondola, sketching the buildings and bridges from the water.