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Nude Old Man in the Sun
Fortuny, Mariano
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Fortuny, Mariano

Reus, Tarragona, 1838 - Rome, 1874

Fortuny, Mariano See author's file

Nude Old Man in the Sun

Ca. 1871. Oil on canvas.
Room 063B

This work is an excellent example of the way in which an interest in the art of Spain´s Golden Age combines in Mariano Fortuny´s paintings with the close study of subjects made from life. Nude Old Man in the Sun reveals Fortuny´s familiarity with the work of Jusepe de Ribera, whose painting Saint Andrew (P1078) he had copied on a previous occasion. And as in that copy and others Fortuny made (such as his watercolour version of Velázquez´s Menippus 1866; D7416), in this painting the artist is interested only in the upper portion of the figure. Executed outdoors during a sojourn in Granada, the work is a study, and indeed it was titled as a study when it was shown at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where one critic described it as an astonishing anatomical study. As is frequently the case in Fortuny´s paintings, particularly in his studies, the work reveals varying degrees of completion in different zones of the painted surface. The lower portion is only sketched, with large patches of paint and long, loose brushstrokes revealing the preparation of the canvas underneath. Photographs taken of the painting when it was with Fortuny in Rome show that the figure originally ended considerably further below the hips, showing the upper part of his legs. When placed in its current frame, this lower section of the painting disappeared from view, though part of it is still attached to the lower edge of the stretcher. Thus, the composition was initially structured more vertically, recalling the characteristics of an ancient sculpted torso. The gradual progression from unfinished areas to those that the painter had worked more extensively -the head and chest, for example- was also more apparent. The folds in the man´s abdomen, the wrinkles at his underarms and the shape of his clavicle attracted the artist´s attention in particular. In those places he applied the paint more thickly, though his brushwork remains loose, enabling him to capture a sense of the man´s anatomy in an intuitive, spontaneous manner. In the execution of the head, the light surface of the man’s beard is the most prominent element, while his tousled hair appears to prolong his leaning toward the right. The old man´s raised face, with eyes half-closed against the sun, accentuates the sense of heedlessness; his withdrawal into purely physical sensations is captured here with extraordinary naturalness. The artist was also interested in adequately studying light, leading to dramatic contrasts between light and shadow in the upper portion of the canvas. The old man´s beard contains bluish tones, providing a sense of Fortuny´s acute skills of observation, and the painting constitutes (along with other works executed in Granada in the company of his friends Martín Rico and the Madrazos), the point of departure for Fortuny´s later successes in capturing local colour in his mature works painted in Portici (Naples). The dark background, executed in warm tones and built up from overlapping brushstrokes, allows the man´s figure to stand out prominently. This painting is the most important one in a large series Fortuny produced in Granada on this same subject, with the same model. In one example, the Torso of an old man (Torso de anciano) (Hispanic Society of America, New York), the model´s attitude is static and serene, lacking the marked contrapposto that is apparent in the present work. In early May 1874, the painter travelled to Paris with several works, among them a representation of a torso that may have been this canvas, which Fortuny painted for Ramón de Errazu. A prominent collector of Mexican origins, Errazu bequeathed an important group of works by Fortuny and other painters from his circle to the Prado in 1904. This canvas became the artist´s most admired work in the Museum, and the one that has itself been most often copied by other artists (Text drawn from Barón, J.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 259).


Technical data

Inventory number
Fortuny, Mariano
Nude Old Man in the Sun
Ca. 1871
Height: 76 cm; Width: 60 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 et Ses Amis Français., Musee Goya, Castres, 1974.

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

Pintores españoles de la luz, AyuntamientoBanco de Bilbao, Madrid, 1983.

De la Puente, Joaquín, Casón del Buen Retiro. Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 80.

Gonzalez Lopez, Carlos, Mariano Fortuny Marsal, I, Diccionario Rafols, Barcelona, 1989, pp. 348 / lám. 196.

Alcolea, Santiago, Fortuny. Puntualizaciones al catálogo de una exposición. II, Archivo español de arte, 63, 1990, pp. 571 / lám. 11.

Díez, José Luis, Da Goya a Picasso. La Pittura Spagnola Dell'Ottocento, Mazzotta, Milan, 1991, pp. 170.

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

Doñate Font, Mercé, Fortuny (1838-1874), Mnac, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 268-272.

Barón, Javier (ed.), El legado de Ramón de Errazu: Fortuny, Madrazo y Rico, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 123-126, nº11.

El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 300/ lám.65.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 259,261, nº98.

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 [252].

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

Gutiérrez Márquez, Ana, Cecilia de Madrazo: Luz y memoria de Mariano Fortuny., Museo Nacional del Prado. Fundación María Cristina Masaveu, Madrid, 2017, pp. 70,105.

Barón, Javier, 'Mariano Fortuny. Viejo desnudo al sol' En:, Fortuny (1838-1874), Museo Nacional del Prado,, Madrid, 2017, pp. 270-274 n.84.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1933. Núm. Legado Errazu Nº 9.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2612.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1364.
Autor = Mariano Fortuny / 1364. Asunto = Busto de hombre desnudo (lienzo) / Dimensiones = alto = 0,74 ancho = 0,58 [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

Inscriptions +

Signed. Front, upper left corner

Inscribed in pen and blue ink. Front, lower left corner

Urbano . Exposición. Pintura española de s.XIX de Goay a Picasso. Palacio de Milán. Obra no24
Printed label. Stretcher

Mariano Fortuny 1838-1874
On metallic tablet. Frame, front, lower bar

Exhibitions +

06.06.2020 - 25.07.2021

Museo del Prado 1819-2019. A place of memory
19.11.2018 - 10.03.2019

Fortuny (1838-1874)
21.11.2017 - 18.03.2018

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

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

Pintura española del Siglo XIX: de Goya a Picasso
18.10.1991 - 08.01.1992

Pintura española del siglo XIX: de Goya a Picasso
San Petersburgo
05.04.1987 - 08.06.1987

Pintura española del siglo XIX: de Goya a Picasso
25.02.1987 - 01.04.1987

Location +

Room 063B (On Display)

Update date: 24-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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