Lot 7
  • 7

Martín Rico y Ortega

80,000 - 120,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Martín Rico y Ortega
  • Ponte dell'Angelo
  • Signed RICO (lower right)
  • oil on canvas laid down on board


Chaine & Simonson, Paris
Knoedler & Co., New York, no. 6763 (acquired from the above, February 1891) 
J. J. Gillespie & Co., Pittsburgh (acquired from the above, May 1891) 
Acquired from the above through the Prendergast Bequest, 1891


"Art Galleries and Societies," American Art Annual, Boston, 1900-1, vol. III, p. 114
Descriptive Catalogue of the Art Gallery of the James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, New York, 1906, no. 18 (as The Angel's Bridge, Venice
Katherine E. Manthorne, The Mirror Up to Nature: A Catalogue of 19th and 20th Century Paintings in the Collection of The James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, New York, 1982, p. 39 (as The Angel's Bridge, Venice

Catalogue Note

Martín Rico y Ortega, while Spanish by birth, was drawn to Venice as generations of tourists have been since the advent of the Grand Tour. This present work situates the viewer on the Ponte dell'Angelo, which crosses the intersections of the Rio de San Zulan and the Rio de Santa Maria Formosa. The canal at right is the Rio de Palazzo de Canonica, which flows from the Grand Canal along the east side of the Palazzo Ducale and Piazza di San Marco, traversed by the famous Ponte di Sospiri. In the center distance, where the canal turns north towards the Santa Maria Formosa, Rico captures a small bridge and a sliver of the Palazzo Avogadro. The right foreground is dominated by the corner of the sprawling Palazzo Soranzo. 

The Palazzo Soranzo is comprised of two adjacent palazzi, the oldest part of the complex dating to the mid-1300s. Giovanni Soranzo was a noted sea captain who defeated the Genoese at Kaffa in the Crimea before he was elected to serve as the fifty-first Doge of Venice from 1312 until 1328. The family opened their home to Dante Alighieri when he arrived in Venice as the ambassador from the Da Polenta family of Ravenna in 1321 and were patrons of the greatest contemporary artists, including Giorgione, who painted frescos on the façade of the newer section of the Palazzo circa 1506.

According to Venetian lore, the carved angel on the north western side of the Palazzo Soranzo, which Rico has placed at upper right of the composition, relates to an event said to have taken place in 1552. A lawyer from the Curia of the Doge, who lived in the Palazzo with his pet monkey, invited a friar to his home for dinner. Recognizing that the monkey was the Devil, intent on taking the lawyer’s soul, the friar immediately expelled the creature from his host’s home. On his way out, however, the creature made a small hole in the wall through which he planned to return. This "Devil's Hole" is visible in the present work, just above the head of the angel which was subsequently carved into the building to prevent evil's return.