The Venetian painter Sebastiano Ricci traveled from capital to capital—Rome, Vienna, London—producing vast frescoes for princely patrons. Even in this small-scale work, his celebrated elegance, fluid brushwork, and brilliant coloring are on display. The subject here is biblical. A woman caught in adultery has been brought to Jesus by the Pharisees—the Jewish social and religious authorities in Jerusalem. They ask him whether such a woman should be stoned (the legal punishment), and he responds by writing on the ground and then saying, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).


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