Painter and decorative artist Sebastiano Ricci was born on 1 August 1659 in Belluno in the Veneto region. At the age of fourteen, he left his birthplace for Venice, where he entered the studio of Milan-born Federico Cervelli. Hot-headed, he suffered a series of romantic misadventures and spats with the law which forced him to leave in the summer of 1681. After a fifteen-year period of work in Emilia, Lombardy, and Rome, he returned for a brief period to Venice in 1696, resuming his study of the sixteenth-century Venetian masters, particularly Paolo Veronese.
He spent time in Vienna where he executed a ceiling painting at Schloss Schönbrun, before coming to London either 1711 or early 1712 (accompanied by his nephew Marco Ricci with whom he developed a close working relationship) in the hope of being commissioned to paint the dome of St Paul’s.
James Thornhill won this commission, but Juliana Boyle, Dowager Countess of Burlington, employed him in the decoration of Burlington House, Piccadilly, in about 1713. He executed four paintings on the theme of the triumph of love. He produced a cycle of wall paintings in the chapel at Bulstrode House near Gerrards Cross for Henry Bentinck, 1st Duke of Portland. He also designed stained glass for the chapel at Cannons at Little Stanmore and painted the apse in the chapel at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Both artists returned to Venice (via Paris) in 1716 where they continued their productive collaboration in a number of prestigious commissions. Sebastiano died in May 1734 in Venice.