Mariano Fortuny Marsal Spain

6-11-1838 Reus, ESP - 11-21-1874 Rome, ITA

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Marsal, Mariano Fortuny

Mariano Fortuny Marsal aka Marià Fortuny y Marsal father died when Mariano Fortuny Marsal was an infant, and his mother by the time he was 12. Thus, Mariano Fortuny Marsal was raised by his grandfather, a cabinet-maker who taught him to make wax figurines. At the age of 9, at a public competition in his town, a local painter, teacher and patron, Domènec Soberano, encouraged further study. At the age of 14 he moved to Barcelona with his grandfather. The sculptor Domènec Talarn secured him a pension allowing him to attend the Academy of Barcelona. There he studied for four years under Claudi Lorenzale and Pau Milà y Fontanals, and in March 1857 he gained a scholarship that entitled him to two years of studies in Rome starting in 1858.

In 1859, he was called by the Government of the Province of Barcelona (Diputació de Barcelona) to depict the campaigns of the Spanish-Moroccan War. He went to Morocco from February to April of that year, making sketches of landscapes and battles, which he showed in Madrid and Barcelona when he returned. These would later serve him as preliminary sketches for his monumental piece, The Battle of Tetuan.

Since the days of Velázquez, there had been a tradition in Spain (and throughout Europe) of memorializing battles and victories in paint. On the basis of his experiences, Mariano Fortuny Marsal was commissioned by the Council of the Province of Barcelona to paint a large canvas diorama of the capture of the camps of Muley-el-Abbas and Muley-el-Hamed by the Spanish army. He began his composition of The battle of Tetuan on a canvas 15 metres long; but, though he worked on and off on it during the next decade, he never finished it.

The greater influence of this travel on Fortuny was his subsequent fascination with the exotic themes of the world of Morocco, painting both individuals and imagined court scenes. He visited Paris in 1868 and shortly afterward married Cecilia de Madrazo. Another visit to Paris in 1870 was followed by a two years' stay at Granada, but then he returned to Rome, where he died suddenly from malaria.

Mariano Fortuny Marsal paintings are colorful, with a vivacious iridescent brushstroke that at times recalls the softness of Rococo painting but also anticipates impressionist brushwork.

Art Movement: Romanticism, Orientalism
Influences: Claudi Lorenzale, Pau Milà i Fontanals
Traveled: France, Morocco, Italy
Influenced: Attilio Simonetti
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