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Drawing - Panis Angelorum
  • Panis Angelorum
    Ricci, Sebastiano, born 1659 - died 1734
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Panis Angelorum

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (possibly, drawn)

  • Date:

    ca.1680-1734 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ricci, Sebastiano, born 1659 - died 1734 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Black and red chalk

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case DG, shelf 112

Physical description

'Panis Angelorum' &c; A female kneeling and pointing to a little dog, which Jesus Christ appears to be blessing; a young man looks on, and three of the Apostles appear behind. Cherubim above, with the holy wafer; Black and red chalk. See the print from this drawing, DYCE.1583, on which the above title is inscribed.

Place of Origin

Italy (possibly, drawn)


ca.1680-1734 (made)


Ricci, Sebastiano, born 1659 - died 1734 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Black and red chalk


Height: 8.9 in, Width: 6.3 in, Height: 23.1 cm, Width: 16.3 cm

Object history note

Historical Significance: Sebastiano Ricci was born in Belluno, but he received his first artistic training in Venice, where he moved at the age of 12. He was an apprentice of the Milanese painter Federico Cervelli (c. 1625-1700), from whom he acquired a free style of painting. A period in Bologna and Parma followed, during which Ricci painted his first major fresco painting in the choir of the Madonna del Serraglio in San Secondo Parmense (Assumtion of the Virgin and Angelic Choir, 1680s). The style of these is close to Correggio.

In 1691 Ricci moved to Rome to continue his education. He led a comfortable life in the Palazzo Farnese, attended by his own servant. He received a commission from the Colonna family to decorate their Palazzo, where he painted the Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto (1692).

After that Ricci married and settled in Venice. He received many commissions in the area around 1700. He decorated the basilica of S. Giustina in Padua, where he painted the altarpiece of Pope St Gregory Invoking the Virgin to Liberate Rome from the Plague (1700). Some of the figures in this scheme project beyond the architectural frame, which was a technique developed earlier by Ricci. He was commissioned to restore frescoes by Veronese in the church of S. Sebastiano. The influence of Veronese’s decorative style is immediately visible in Ricci’s work from this point.

In the winter of 1711-12 Sebastiano travelled to England in the company of his nephew Marco Ricci, who had worked there already with Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini. Their first important patron was Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, who commissioned Ricci to decorate the staircase in Burlington House, London, with Diana and her Nymphs bathing, the Triumph of Galatea and the Meeting of Bacchus and Ariadne. These all remain elsewhere in the building which now houses the Royal Academy. Other prestigious projects in London followed, including the decoration of the ceiling of the Great Room of the house belonging to Henry Bentinck, 2nd Earl of Portland in St James’s Square, London. Ricci was seriously considered as the artist to decorate the ceiling of St Paul’s cathedral, but the project was given to James Thornhill. In 1716 he returned to Venice, visiting Paris on his way. Sebastiano Ricci painted there the Allegory of Sciences (1716, Paris, Louvre) as a reception piece for the academy.

During his late period in Venice Ricci enjoyed a high prestige of an internationally renowned painter. He received many commissions in this period, such as decorating the ballroom of palazzo Gabrielli (now Palazzo Taverna) in Rome with mythological scenes. These, recalling the style of Veronese, are among the most celebrated scenes by Ricci. He was also supported by the members of the house of Savoy and Joseph Smith, the English consul in Venice and one of the most important art patrons of the city.

The drawing depicts Christ meeting the woman from Canaan, an episode which is narrated in Matthew 15:22-8. Apart from Christ, the woman and the disciples, the composition features details which are crucial to the understanding of the metaphor used by Christ: the dog on the lower background and the angels, which probably stand for the biblical children.

The engraving after this drawing, Dyce 1583, is inscribed Panis Angelorum non mitemdus canibus (The bread of the angels is not to be given among the dogs). It is attributed to Carlo Orsolini. At the lower left corner there is an inscription identifying Sebastiano Ricci as inventor and draughtsman. This attribution was later rejected by Pignatti and Ward-Jackson. The drawing seems to be by an imitator of Sebastiano Ricci.

A similar composition was used by Ricci in a picture at Hampton Court (Levey 1964, o. 637, pl. 86). Both of these are in turn reminiscent of a lost composition by Annibale Caracci (c. 1560-1609), known through an engraving by Carlo Cesio.


Levey, M.: The later Italian pictures in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Cambridge: Cambride University Press, 1991.
Ward-Jackson, P.: Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogues: Italian Drawings: Volume Two 17th-18th century, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1980

Descriptive line

Ricci, Sebastiano; 'Panis Angelorum' &c; A female kneeling and pointing to a little dog, which Jesus Christ appears to be blessing; a young man looks on, and three of the Apostles appear behind. Cherubim above, with the holy wafer; Black and red chalk; Venetian School; ca.1680-1734.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum, 1874.


Black chalk; Red chalk



Subjects depicted

Man; Cherubim; Woman; Dog; Wafer




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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