Thursday, January 27, 2022

Watercolor by Mariano Fortuny


Mariano Fortuny, Hombre semidesnudo, pencil and watercolor, 
around 1870-72. Height: 32.5cm; Width: 23.1 cm

After I last posted about Fortuny's watercolors a few years ago, blog reader Ramon left the following insightful comments:
"Some sources list Fortuny as a student of Gerome and/or Meissonier, but by the time Fortuny went to Paris, he was already a fairly mature painter. As far as I understand, and what I've seen from Spanish sources, his only formal training was with Claudi Lorenzale and Pau Mila i Fontanals at the Escola Provincial de Belles Arts in Barcelona (he and his grandfather had to walk there from their home in Reus, because they couldn't afford anything else).

"Fortuny was the most promising pupil, and a Rome prize was organized more or less so he could win it, which he did in 1857. Once in Rome, he frequented Gigi's academy, which was really just an open model session. Gigi's attracted an international group of students and each session had 2 hrs of clothed modeling and 2 of nude modeling. Students voted on whether they would like the pose for 3 or 4 evenings. Crucifixion poses were apparently popular and there was a large wooden cross there for the purpose.

"I don't recall about how many times Fortuny visited Paris, but I believe his major visit was around 1868 when he was working on La Vicaria. Gerome lent him a studio and Meissonier insisted on posing for one of the main figures (man with a saber). Fortuny was not a pupil, but he had studied Meissonier's work. His friend Zamacois had, however, studied with Meissonier.

"Meissonier apparently claimed that he would give his left hand (some say just the little finger) to paint watercolors as well as Fortuny. I remember reading that, when someone told him Fortuny was copying him, he said something like "if a genius like Mariano Fortuny were to copy me, it would be the greatest compliment of my professional career". Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track down the quote.

We also don't know exactly what he died of (some say malaria, some say stomach ulcer) and many American sources inexplicably refer to him Mariano Fortuny y Carbo, which is bizarre, since his mother's maiden name was Marsal, thus his name in Spanish sources is Mariano Fortuny y Marsal or Maria Fortuny i Marsal in Catalan."


Susan Krzywicki said...

Is this the same Fortuny who was the wizard of pleated fabric?

Got a giggle out of the idea that the studio needed to keep a big crucifix on hand.

tayete said...

I think Mariano Fortuny is one of the best and least known Spanish painters. If only he hadn't died so young his name would be widely spread in the art community. He was one of the most prolific painters and also tried several arts at the same time: he was also an awesome designer (clothes, furniture, lamps...).

I have been trying to find some readings about his watercolors' technique, to no avail. He doesn't seem to "follow the rules" and this make them unique and uncomparable.

squeen said...

Strange color choice around the midsection!

Vladimir Venkov said...

Such a beautiful and expressive painting! He was a real master.

SummaSummanum said...


I think that it is something similar to the "Burt Silverman" technique.

Here demonstrated by Gerge Pratt.