Study of a Seated Saint or Prophet

Giovanni Battista Ricci, called Ricci da Novara

Biography



Very little is known of the early career of the Lombard painter and draughtsman Giovanni Battista Ricci before his arrival in Rome at the beginning of the 1580’s. Mainly active as a fresco painter during the pontificates of Sixtus V, Clement VIII and Paul V, Ricci was one of the busiest painters in Rome during this period, and was elected to the Virtuosi al Pantheon in 1583 and, five years later, to the Accademia di San Luca. He was awarded a number of prestigious ecclesiastical commissions in Rome, notably at the Vatican, where he worked on the Scala Santa and the Sistine Library in collaboration with Cesare Nebbia and Giovanni Guerra, as well as at St. Peter’s (where he designed the stucco decoration of the ceiling of the portico) and San Giovanni Laterano. He was also named soprintendente of painting at the Papal palace on the Quirinale between 1591 and 1593, working alongside Guerra and Nebbia. Much of Ricci’s work survives in Rome today, mainly in the form of fresco cycles in the Vatican and in such Roman churches as San Marcello al Corso, Sant’Agostino, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, San Francesco a Ripa and Santa Maria Traspontina.