Spanish painter and stage designer, part of a family of artists. Francisco Rizi and his brother Fray Juan Rizi were the son of the mediocre Italian painter Antonio Ricci (d 1631) from Ancona who came to Spain with Federico Zuccaro in 1583. Juan, though primarily a painter, also wrote two theoretical treatises and worked occasionally as an architect. Francisco was a prolific artist and one of the leading exponents of Spanish High Baroque. He was also one of the most influential Spanish artists of his time and was regarded as such by contemporaries (e.g. Palomino
). From his master Vicente Carducho he acquired a precision in composition, a wealth of means of expression and a love of drawing. He produced important decorative work
in fresco and tempera, though few examples have survived.
He may well have received his early training from his father, but most sources indicate that he was also a pupil of Vicente Carducho, who refers to him as such in his will of 1638, in which he bequeathed him the sketchbook of his choice among those in his studio. Rizi s contact with the court was probably due to Carducho, and by 1639 he was working with Alonso Cano
and other artists of his generation in Madrid (Antonio Arias Fernndez, Jusepe Leonardo, Felix Castelo, Diego Polo and others) on the decoration (destroyed) of the Saln Dorado (or Saln Grande) of the Alczar. The decorative scheme, which had been designed by Carducho, consisted of portraits of the kings of Castile. Many works by Rizi are recorded in the 1640s, and in 1649, on the occasion of the state entry of Mariana of Austria, the second wife of Philip IV, into Madrid, he was responsible for organizing the street decorations and the temporary architectural structures. At the same time he was working in the royal theatre of the Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, where he was engaged for many years, succeeding the Italians Baccio del Bianco and Cosimo Lotti as a specialist in theatre decoration.
In 1656 Rizi was named painter to the king. He had already begun exchanging Carducho s solemnity for a livelier style influenced by the Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens
and Anthony Van Dyck.
During the 1660s Rizi decorated numerous Madrid churches. Like many of his contemporaries, he grew increasingly aware of Venetian painting, but he added a richly coloured, strongly illusionistic approach to Venetian drama and spectacular compositions. After falling from favour at court and working outside Madrid, Rizi resumed court employment during his last years. An able and popular teacher, he taught many of Spain s best painters of the younger generation.