(Belluno 1659 – Venice 1734)
Bathsheba at her bath (The toilet of Venus)
End 17th-Beginning 18th century
Oil on canvas, 26,18 x 19,29 inch
The subject can be interpreted in two ways: as the Toilet of Venus or as the Bathsheba at her bath. The mythological theme was very common in Venice already from the 16th century while the testamentary one can be considered a “genetic mutation” of it, because it is still an exaltation of the beauty, an aesthetic pretext to underline the hypnotic value of the female body. In this canvas the attention is captured by the movements of the bodies and by their immersion in the landscape; without proposing a blasphemous confrontation, Ricci seems constructing the image with the same purpose of his famous and numerous Temptations. The figures are small, acting in a theatrical way, with an inferiority complex with the landscape, composed as a scenography. While the natural environment in the Temptations is hugging the tempted saint and it becomes rigid and hostile, in these “laical” versions it get mitigated even if it is still remaining the fundamental container of the episode. On these premises, a painting like this can be added to the Milan production of the artist. It was probably painted as a moment of break, a quiet pause in the middle of so many more thematically suffered and imminent compositions. The figures show some reference to Alessandro Magnasco softened by a delicacy typical of Emilia Romagna’s art.
Translated by: A. Scarpa, Scheda 342, in Sebastiano Ricci, Milan 2006, p. 263