Marià Fortuny

Reus 1838 - Roma 1874

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Marià Fortuny was one of the Spanish artists with the most significant influence on painting from the death of Francisco de Goya until the beginning of the 19th century. His academic training began at the Reus Municipal Art School, where the painter Domènec Soberano (1825-1909) brought him closer to the world of lithographs. With his classmate Josep Tapiró (1836-1913), he tackled landscape painting and came into contact with Nazarene pictorial compositions, which he would deepen during his stay in Barcelona, where he moved in 1850. After entering the workshop of the sculptor Domènec Talarn (1812- 1902), he managed to access the School of Fine Arts of La Lonja, where his teachers Pablo Milà (1810-1883) and Claudi Lorenzale (1814-1889) influenced him towards a rigid drawing of the figures and the romantic tendency. On the other hand, with Luis Rigalt (1814-1894), Fortuny delved into landscape painting, which he had already explored more freely in his hometown. In this first stage of his artistic production, the personality of a polyhedral artist is perceived master in a plurality of stylistic orientations and capable of standing out in a wide range of techniques. In 1858 Fortuny entered the Chigi Academy in Rome and devoted himself to the study and drawing of life models. The evolution of his innovative style and his firm mastery of technique is visible above all in his drawing, which is more refined and precise. 1860 was a crucial year for his artistic development because, after receiving an important commission on the Spanish-Moroccan War from the Barcelona Provincial Council, the artist decided to travel to Morocco to study scenes and make sketches from life. This experience deeply marked his way of observing and capturing reality: his attention to drawing was still present, but it stayed in the background. However, the interest in luminism and atmospheres aroused by the oriental landscape and African light emerged. Thus, the quick and sketchy touch of the brush, the strong chiaroscuro, and a palette of vivid colours bestow Fortuny the consideration to be the creator of luminism in Spain. Back in Europe, the artist tirelessly travelled between the artistic capitals, visiting their museums and learning from the great masters of all times. In Paris, he attended the renewal of the etching technique, which he began to develop, thus becoming one of its most outstanding Spanish representatives. Between 1863-1868 he devoted himself to natural production, particularly visiting Naples to see the work of Domenico Morelli (1823-1901) and Filippo Pallizzi (1818-1899), and Florence, where he possibly came into contact with the macchiaioli. In 1867 we found him in Madrid, where he married Cecilia de Madrazo, daughter of the painter Federico de Madrazo, then director of the Museo del Prado. He will travel to Morocco other times, dealing with traditional themes and architectural motifs from the Arab world and treating them with the exotic orientation that will become fashionable throughout Europe. In the last years of his brief life, when his fame was already consolidated, the artist moved to Granada, always traveling periodically to Paris, Portici (Naples), and Rome, where he died of a stomach ulcer in November 1874 at the age of only 36.