Mariano Fortuny (Biographical details)

Mariano Fortuny (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; Spanish; Male; 1838 - 1874)

Also known as

Fortuny, Mariano; Fortuny y Marsal, Mariano José María Bernardo; Fortuny y Carbo, Mariano José María Bernardo


Painter and etcher. Born in Reus (Catalonia), died Rome. Son-in-law of Federico de Madrazo (q.v.).
(Text by Martin Hopkinson) Son of a carpenter who specialised in carvings and altars, he helped his grandfather on his travelling museum of wax figurines. At the age of 9 he joined the public drawing school and entered the studio of the local painter Domenec Soberano. In 1853 Fortuny enrolled in the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Barcelona, where Claudi Lorenzale offered him a place in his studio. Two years later he saw some lithographs by Gavarni, who was to be the most significant early influence on his work. Fortuny's first prints were lithographs illustrating a translation of a novel by Alexandre Dumas. In 1857 the Barcelona Provincial Council awarded Fortuny a two year pension for study in Rome, where, on his arrival in 1858, he briefly shared a studio with Attilio Simonetti, who became one of his closest friends. He also attended the Gigi Academy and often visited the French Academy in the Villa Medici. Fortuny returned to Spain in 1860 to fulfil a commission from the Provincial Council to make studies from life of the Spanish-Moroccan war. In February he met the Parisian journalist and art critic, Charles Yriarte, in Morocco. Together they witnessed some of the fighting. On his return to Spain he met the painter Federico de Madrazo, with whom he visited the Prado for the first time. After an exhibition in Barcelona of some of the drawings that Fortuny had made in Morocco, the Council asked him to go to Versailles to study Horace Vernet's 1843 The capture of Abd-el-Kadar's Smalah. He then returned to his studio in the Via Ripetta in Rome.
Fortuny made his first etching in 1861 and it seems that almost all his 73 etchings were made in Rome. The following year the Provincial Council asked him to make a second visit to Morocco for research towards completing his major painting 'The Battle of Tetuan'. Fortuny settled in Tangiers and Tetuan before briefly returning to Barcelona.
In March 1863 the Council agreed to a two year renewal of his pension and he went back to Rome, where he eventually took a studio in the Via della Purificazione. In 1865 the Duke of Riansares gave him a pension for the following two years. The key to his financial success was his meeting with Adolphe Goupil in Paris early in 1866. The print dealer immediately gave him a contract and was to publish all his etchings. Later in the year he was awarded a medal in the Paris Salon. Fortuny also renewed his acquaintance with Federico de Madrazo, now the Director of the Prado. His ties to the family were soon strengthened by his marriage in 1867 to Cecilia de Madrazo y Garreta. Through his relatives by marriage Fortuny had access to outstanding collections of Goya's prints and drawings. He was also now able to purchase prints by Rembrandt, Ribera, Tiepolo and Goya. Later Fortuny also formed a major collection of medieval ceramics, weaponry and photographs of oriental clothes and picturesque views of sites of historical importance. Rome was to remain his principal base until 1870. From there he made frequent visits to his home country and to Paris. The outbreak of the Franco- Prussian War induced him to settle in Granada, where he lived until 1872. In November that year he returned to Rome where he died on 21 November 1874. Earlier that year Fortuny had made his only visit to London, where he met Millais. He had wanted to meet Alma-Tadema, photographs of whose work he had acquired in 1872, but the artist was not in town. Fortuny was an admirer of the paintings of Boldini and was close to a number of the Macchiaioli, including Fattori and Silvestro Lega.


R.Vives, 'Fortuny, grabador. Estudi crìtic i catàleg raonat', Reus, 1991 (see also J.Vega in the 1992 catalogue of the BN in Madrid).
'Fortuny (1838-1874)', Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona 2003, includes essays on many aspects of his career and art, including printmaking, as well as a very thorough bibliography.