In this study for a painting, the Venetian Rococo painter Sebastiano Ricci sketches out an arrangement of attendants surrounding the bathing Bathsheba, one of the major female protagonists of the Old Testament. The spirited touch and fluid lines, the strong contrasts of the figures, and the rapid flourishes that adorn the architectural elements are characteristic of Ricci’s late drawings. This work was most likely created in Venice, after Ricci, whose travel and work throughout Europe earned him international esteem, returned to his birthplace. Artworks representing Bathsheba at her bath are quite common, as this scene allows for the illustration of a beautiful female nude during a moment of violated privacy, when King David’s illicit glance inflames his desires. This drawing is likely a compositional study for Ricci’s painting of the same subject, “Bathsheba” (1725), held in the collection of the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin.
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