‘A Very Curious Series of Paintings’: Marco Ricci’s Paintings on Leather
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The 2017 Royal Collection Trust exhibition ‘Canaletto and the Art of Venice’ necessitated the examination and conservation treatment of eight paintings by the artist Marco Ricci (1676–1730). Marco’s artworks were unusually catalogued as ‘tempera on kidskin leather’, however it became apparent that internationally widespread confusion and inconsistency existed in the cataloguing of these artworks, complicating the understanding of these ‘curious’ paintings and the development of a conservation treatment approach. As in-depth material analysis was not possible, multi-collection and art historical research were combined with close observation to better understand the material nature and condition of this unusual group of paintings. The Royal Collection’s group of Marco Ricci paintings on leather is the largest in existence, with all 32 artworks presented in their original frames and it is suggested here that some exist in their original mounted format. This group is therefore the basis of much of the author’s current understanding. Despite presenting a consistent framed visual appearance, the project unearthed surprising variation amongst the Royal Collection works, serving to significantly supplement previous understanding of these paintings.