About The Artist
Mariano Fortuny Marsal was born in 1838 in Reus Spain to a family of artisans. He was orphaned at the age of 12 and worked with his grandfather to help support the rest of his family. Fortuny studied with Claudio Lorenzale at the Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts for four years. In 1858 Fortuny won the Prix de Rome, a scholarship prize, which allowed him to study drawing and painting in Italy for two years. He first visited Africa in 1859 and again in 1862. In 1866 Fortuny visited Paris where he became friends with Jean Leon Gerome and Ernest Meissonier. Fortuny was married to Cecilia de Madrazo in 1868 and had one son. While in Paris, Fortuny signed a contract with the Parisian art dealer Adolphe Goupil, giving Goupil exclusive rights to Fortuny’s work. Goupil mounted a show for the painter in 1870. The show consisted of Fortuny’s paintings of North Africa and paintings of contemporary court life. The work was a huge success; the public and other artists were captivated by his bravura style, excellent draughtsmanship and his bold use of color. Fortuny’s most important collector was the American William Hood Stewart, a Philadelphian. Stewart held the largest collection of the artist’s work and was responsible for introducing him to other American collectors. His style is very much in the grand manner of painting, with facile loose brushwork and the ability to capture a moment in time. He was just as competent in watercolor as he was in oils. When you compare his work to other Orientalist painters the difference is powerful and immediate. Fortuny was not a mere recorder of facts. His work is infused with light, color and above all the life of his subjects.