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Menippus, detail (copy after Velázquez)
Fortuny, Mariano (Copy after: Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y)
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Fortuny, Mariano (Copy after: Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y)

Menippus, detail (copy after Velázquez)

1866 - 1868. Watercolour, Gouache / tempera on paper.
Not on display

Fortuny made an ample number of copies of famous paintings, some as late as the end of the 1860s. They reveal his interest in deepening his knowledge of the painting of the great masters, especially Velázquez and Goya, and to a lesser extent, Raphael, Dürer, Tintoretto, El Greco, Ribera, Rubens, Van Dyck and Tiepolo, as well as Rembrandt and the Japanese engravers, all of whom had a fundamental influence on his work. Fortuny made these copies in oils and also in watercolors, as the latter medium allowed a less direct approach and an immediate resolution that was appropriate for the type of copy that interested him and that allowed him to rapidly capture the essence of a painting.

Often, as here, he concentrated on an aspect of the composition that particularly interested him. He did that same with a half-length copy of Aesop (former Mariano Fortuny Madrazo collection, Venice) in oils. In both cases, but especially in Menippus, the most striking aspect is the highly expressive face, along with the hand, thanks to Fortuny’s reduction of the figure to an elongated bust. Through that reduction, the artist avoids representing the spatial effects that captivated Velázquez. In fact, he barely delineates the cape’s shadow on the wall, reducing it to a light line. The resolution is relaxed and summary, revealing Fortuny’s considerable skill at watercolors. He obtains beautiful colors as well, including the greenish blues and chestnut tones on the beggar’s head. Moreover, he obtains a feeling of consistency by adding touches of gouache, as can be seen on the beard, and by reinforcing the shadows with varnish glazes. Fortuny must have made this copy over the course of several visits to the Museo del Prado while in Madrid in late June and July of 1866. His fondness of it is indicated by a photograph from 1874 that shows it framed and hanging in Fortuny’s studio in Rome. At the sale in Paris, it is listed as Vieillard d’après Velazquez, with the specification that it was a study made at the Museum of Madrid. One copy of the catalog has a handwritten note in ink with the figure 1.150, which would correspond to its sales price in French Francs. At the atelier sales, this and a study of El Greco were the only watercolor copies with their own numbers. Another six based on works at the Museo del Prado by Titian, Tintoretto and Velázquez, among other artists, shared the same catalog number with no additional details. Moreover, they were offered at far lower prices, indicating that the present work was much more highly esteemed. As with the other watercolors in his collection, it is framed with a golden and beveled passepartout surrounded by equally golden edges that reinforce its pictorial character and endow it with an importance equal to the oils. While this watercolor has not pleased everyone who has written about it, it achieves, as mentioned above, degrees of intensity and vigor worthy of Velázquez. Fortuny’s capacity to transmit the deep spirit of the creations of other artists impressed other painters and critics, and this watercolor is an extraordinary example of the artist’s ability to vividly capture expressions. Here, he manages to imbue the head with the appearance of a haughty and scornful beggar of a sort that was common in this country, and admirably represented by Velázquez in his interpretation of the Greek philosopher from the 3d century B.C.E.

Barón, Javier (ed.), El legado de Ramón de Errazu: Fortuny, Madrazo y Rico, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2005, p.108, nº7


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Fortuny, Mariano (Copy after: Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y)
Menippus, detail (copy after Velázquez)
1866 - 1868
Watercolour; Gouache / tempera
Height: 620 mm; Width: 470 mm
Legacy of Ramón de Errazu y Rubio de Tejada, 1904

Bibliography +

Exposición Fortuny, Servicio de Defensa del Patrimonio Artístico Nacional, Barcelona, 1940, pp. nº 245.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Ainaud de Lasarte, Josep M., Mariano Fortuny, Comisaría Nacional de Museos y ExposicionesJunta d, Madrid, 1974.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 83.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996.

Barón, Javier (ed.), El legado de Ramón de Errazu: Fortuny, Madrazo y Rico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 108, nº7.

G.Navarro,C., Testamentaría e Inventario de Bienes de Mariano Fortuny en Roma, Locvs amoenvs, nº9, 2007-8, pp. 319-349.

Martínez Plaza, P. J., 'Mariano Fortuny. Menipo (copia de Velázquez)' En:, Fortuny (1838-1874), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2017, pp. 172-177 n.36.

Other inventories +

Inv. Dibujos siglo XIX, Casón del Buen Retiro. Núm. 566.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2611.

Números descatalogados del inventario informático. Núm. P002611.
Por indicación del Jefe de Área de Pintura del S. XIX se cambió su numeración

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1363.
Como se ha notado que los cuadros de la colección legada por D. Ramón de Errazu, no se hallan inventariados, se ponen ahora en este sitio aunque debieran estar antes. / Legado de D. Ramón de Errazu, que se aceptó por Real Orden de 13 de diciembre de 1904 / Autor = Mariano Fortuny 1363. Asunto = Busto de Menipo, copia de Velázquez (acuarela) / Dimensiones = Alto = 0,60 ancho = 0,46

Inscriptions +

30 Z.C 4/4
Inscribed in pen and ink. Frame, back, lower bar

Ministo Educac. Nnal.Expo Fortuny, Museo de Arte Moderno Barcelona, 1974.
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, right side bar

M.N.PRADO / 02611
On metallic tablet. Frame, back, right side bar

No 2611
Inscribed in red color. Frame, back, upper bar

Fortuny [sello de la testamentaría del pintor]
Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

I Fortuny. Una storia di famiglia
11.05.2019 - 26.08.2019

Fortuny (1838-1874)
21.11.2017 - 18.03.2018

Temporary display: "Fortuny and the Splendour of Spanish Watercolours in the Prado"
02.03.2011 - 04.09.2011

El legado Ramón Errazu: Fortuny, Madrazo y Rico
13.12.2005 - 12.03.2006

Update date: 24-09-2022 | Registry created on 24-08-2015

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