Born to a family of artists, Marco Ricci first studied with his uncle Sebastiano Ricci. After murdering a gondolier in a brawl, Marco fled to Dalmatia, where he spent four years apprenticed to a landscape painter. By 1705 he was in Milan working with Alessandro Magnasco, absorbing his free handling of paint. After trips to Florence and Rome, he went to the Netherlands and studied Dutch landscape painting on his way to England. During nearly two years in London, he created opera sets and decorated private homes.
Back in Venice in 1716, Marco continued his stage work and painted landscape backgrounds for Sebastiano's works. Around 1720 he made small landscapes in tempera on leather. Whether small or large, capriccio or ancient ruins, Marco united the simplicity and realism of Dutch and Flemish art with the fantasies of the Baroque stage, a key development in Venetian landscape art. He was also one of the first etchers in eighteenth-century Venice; his Experimenta prints were published posthumously in 1730. He may have committed suicide dressed in a bizarre costume and hung with a sword so that he could die "like a cavaliere."