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Fortuny, Mariano
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Fortuny, Mariano

Reus, Tarragona, 1838 - Rome, 1874

Fortuny, Mariano See author's file


1872 - 1874. Oil on panel.
Room 063B

Fortuny’s predilection for beautifully colored and very carefully painted panels is perfectly exemplified by the present work, which reveals his mastery of tableautin, a type of painting that garnered considerable commercial success for artists such as Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), although the latter’s execution was much more meticulous and drawn. The Orientalist genre was also the object of growing international interest and, as one of its leading exponents, Fortuny made it a maximum reference for a circles of friends and followers who assiduously exploited it after his death in order to meet the demands of a considerable market. The artist’s experiences in North Africa, beginning with his first visits to paint the Spanish-Moroccan war, were of capital import in his painting. A direct knowledge of Morocco’s light, atmosphere and landscape underlie Fortuny’s effort to accurately capture the surprising atmospheric effects he saw there.

The present composition is the result of a trip to North Africa with his friends, Bernardo Ferrándiz and José Tapiró, in October 1871. He made various drawings of different figures there, and one of them shows that the composition was originally quite different. Where the woman and child now appear, an Arab man sat, cleaning his long rifle. This figure does not appear in the finished painting, but it is more clearly visible in another drawing, alongside a dog whose posture is also different in the painting. Each of those drawings also includes sketches for the mother and child, a group that must have awoken the artist’s interest, as he decided to place them in the middle of the scene, alongside an Arab ceramic pot that can be seen in photographs of his studio in Rome and had already appeared in other works, including Snake Charmers, for which he made a drawing of this object resting on a plate.

In this very straightforward composition the figures stand out against a whitewashed wall, as also occurs in other works by Fortuny. The people are Moroccan, and it this sense, the title is revealing. At the Universal Exposition of 1878 in Paris, Fortuny’s friends, Martín Rico and Raimundo de Madrazo were involved in the catalog, and there, it appears as Memories of Morocco. But in the document that bequeathed it to Ramón de Errazu, it is listed as Moorish Scene in Tangiers, with the clarification: Moor on Horseback and Others on the Ground. In the earliest catalogs that list it at the Museo del Prado -those drawn up by painter Salvador Viniegra, assistant director of the museum and author of additions to Pedro de Madrazo’s text- it appears as Meeting of Moroccans. Other authors call it Desert Travelers, alluding to a stopover by a group that Fortuny may have seen on that trip.

The composition is very closed in on itself by the postures of the male figures and it intensely conveys a moment of calm. The Arab on horseback stands out among all the figures, due to his colorful clothing and his horse’s harness. He is in full sunlight and totally immobile, as is his dog, who looks at his owner as if awaiting an order. The standing Arab also looks at him, which imbues the scene with an air of expectant and tense calm accentuated by the men’s weapons. The painting has tight, consistent impastos with rich qualities on all surfaces. The artist, who loved and collected weapons, and even carved them at that time, masterfully depicts the long rifle here, as well as the hilt and harness of the scimitar. The textiles are also treated with considerable skill, but without any concern for minor details, using rich impastos. The artist’s dexterity at capturing the light on the wall in full sunlight is outstanding, and that was a matter that particularly interested him during his stay in Granada between 1870 and 1872. He also colors the shadows, as can be seen on those of the horse and the long rifle. And the latter’s shadow has blue and slightly wavy edges that reveal a fine and direct observation from nature, reflecting not only the irregularities of the wall but also the hazy atmosphere characteristic of midday in North Africa (Text drawn from Barón, J.: El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, pp. 303-304).


Technical data

Inventory number
Fortuny, Mariano
1872 - 1874
Height: 13 cm; Width: 19 cm
Legacy of Ramón de Errazu y Rubio de Tejada, 1904

Bibliography +

Exposición Fortuny, Servicio de Defensa del Patrimonio Artístico Nacional, Barcelona, 1940.

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 Exposiciones Junta de Museos de Barcelona, Barcelona, 1974.

Bassegoda i Nonell, Joan, Exposicion la Coleccion Fortuny de la Real Academia de Bella, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Sa, Barcelona, 1975.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 80.

Gonzalez Lopez, Carlos, Mariano Fortuny Marsal, Diccionario Rafols, Barcelona, 1989, pp. 317 / lám. 165.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (III). Nuevas Adquisiciones. Museo Iconográfico. Tapices., Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996.

Dizy Caso, Eduardo, Los orientalistas de la escuela española, ACR Éditions, 1997, pp. 98-111.

Doñate Font, Mercé, Fortuny (1838-1874), MNAC, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 290.

El legado de Ramón de Errazu: Fortuny, Madrazo y Rico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 130, nº13.

Diez, J.L; Barón, J., El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 303-304/ lám.66.

Torres González, Begoña, Fortuny: un mundo en miniatura, Libsa, Madrid, 2008, pp. 318.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 446.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 59 n.265.

Barón, Javier, 'El virtuosismo en la pintura española del s.XIX: Mariano Fortuny, Martín Rico y Raimundo de Madrazo' En: Del realismo al impresionismo, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado - Galaxia Gutenberg, Madrid, 2014, pp. 237-265 [244].

Díez, José Luis (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 193.

Tiempo de ensoñación: Andalucía en el imaginario de Fortuny, Fundación Bancaria "la Caixa": Patronato de la Alhambra, 2016, pp. 114-115 f.94.

Barón, Javier, 'Mariano Fortuny. Marroquíes' En:, Fortuny (1838-1874), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2017, pp. 303-305 n.99.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1933. Núm. Legado Errazu nº 4.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2607.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1359.
[Al margen izquierdo=] 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 1359. Asunto = Reunión de marroquíes (tabla) / Dimensiones = alto = 0,13 ancho = 0,19

Inscriptions +

Fortuny / 74
Signed and dated. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed. Frame, back, lower bar

Direcc. Gral BBAA., MEAC, Expo Fortuny
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, upper bar

Mino Educac. y Ciencia, Expo Fortuny, Museo Arte Mod. Barcelona, Noviembre 1974.
Scrap of paper. Frame, back, lower bar

M.N.PRADO / M1542
Inscribed in golden colour. Frame, back, lower bar

M.N.PRADO/ 02607
On metallic tablet. Frame, back, upper bar

Nº 2607
Scrap of paper. On underside

Exhibitions +

Fortuny (1838-1874)
21.11.2017 - 18.03.2018

Tiempo de ensoñación: Andalucía en el imaginario de Fortuny
19.09.2017 - 31.10.2017

Tiempo de ensoñación: Andalucía en el imaginario de Fortuny
26.04.2017 - 27.08.2017

Tiempo de ensoñación: Andalucía en el imaginario de Fortuny
23.11.2016 - 26.03.2017

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

El Siglo XIX en el Prado
31.10.2007 - 20.04.2008

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

Mariano Fortuny
16.10.2003 - 18.01.2004

Location +

Room 063B (On Display)

Update date: 16-03-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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