Marco was the nephew of Sebastiano Ricci, the talented and innovative painter who shifted towards Venetian Rococo in the late 17th and early 18th century. He moved from his home town, Belluno, down to Venice, and he too started his career as a figure painter, following the footsteps of his famous uncle. Even so, his debut must have been fairly mediocre if it is true that, as Ticozzi wrote in 1832, Marco soon "“abandoned his figure studies and took up landscape painting"”.
A trip to Rome at the very end of the 17th century proved to be of fundamental importance for his apprenticeship in this field. He was escaping from a certain sentence for murder and he sought refuge first in Ancona and then in the capital of the Papal States. Here‴ he was able to obtain first-hand experience of works by 17th-century landscapists‴ from Salvator Rosa right through to Ghisolfi‴ and he applied what he learnt to a profound meditation on the Venetian tradition of landscape painting in the early Cinquecento‴ taking from artists such as Domenico Campagnola and the early works of Titian. This repertoire of knowledge enabled him to perfect a very personal style‴ initially highly dramatic‴ with dominant brownish tones and an emphasis on chiaroscuro and realism. Over the years‴ Marco brightened his palette considerably‴ partly due to his experiences in Tuscany‴ where he met Magnasco‴ and in England‴ where he was able to see the works of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masters in local collections‴ and he saw others on his return to Venice in 1715 when he stopped off in the Low Countries. The works he made in the last ten years of his career were extremely luminous‴ especially when he used tempera on kidskin.