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The Battle of Wad-Rass
Fortuny, Mariano
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Fortuny, Mariano

Reus, Tarragona, 1838 - Rome, 1874

Fortuny, Mariano See author's file

The Battle of Wad-Rass

1860 - 1861. Oil on paper attached to cardboard.
Room 063B

Shortly before Mariano Fortuny concluded the second year of the pension he had received from the Regional Government of Barcelona in 1858 to complete his studies in Rome, that same institution commissioned him, on January 10, 1860, to travel to Morocco as a graphic reporter of the African War. There, Spanish troops were fighting in the northern Maghreb -especially the battalion of Catalan volunteers recruited by their Regional Government and commanded by General Juan Prim y Prats (1814-1870). That commission’s final objective was a series of large paintings to decorate the Boardroom at the Palacio de la Diputación, but it also led Fortuny to discover Africa and the Arab world, which would be determinant in his career. Some of his most beautiful works explore that subject matter, and several of the most exquisite examples are now at the Museo del Prado. In the end, Fortuny only painted one of the works for that initial project: the monumental Battle of Tetuan, which took him several years to complete, cost him considerable heartache and difficulties, and remained unfinished in his studio when he died.

As artistic war correspondent, Fortuny was a direct witness to the Battle of Wad-Ras just a few days after he arrived in Morocco. There, on March 23, 1860, Spanish and Moroccan troops clashed in the valley of the same name, on the road from Tétouan to Tangiers. That was one of the most famous battles of the entire war, as well as the last one. Regular troops commanded by generals Rafael Echagüe and Antonio Ros de Olano, along with Catalan volunteers led by Prim, defeated the Moroccans, forcing them to sue for peace. This culminated in the armistice signed by Muley-al-Abbas and General O’Donnell, which put an end to the war.

During his months in Morocco, Fortuny made innumerable on-the-spot notes and sketches of this and other skirmishes, presenting them to the Regional Government of Barcelona when he returned on June 4, 1860. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Rome and began work on the splendid draft visible here. The battle’s natural setting is an open landscape presented as a markedly horizontal panorama: a large plain by the river where the battle took place. The highly elegant composition presents the clash between the two armies in a manner directly reminiscent of Horace Vernet’s (1786-1863) The Capture of the Smalah of Abd-el-Kader, an enormous mural painted for the palace at Versailles. At the Barcelona Regional Government’s express request, Fortuny stopped at Versailles to see that work on his way back to Rome from his first stay in Africa. Due to the fact that it is a draft, and despite it early date, this painting shows Fortuny’s most vibrant, paint-laden technique, with a pictorial ease that does not neglect the attentive description of the figures, including some of the freshest and most vigorous fragments from his action scenes (Text drawn from Díez, J. L.: El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, pp. 290-294).


Technical data

Inventory number
Fortuny, Mariano
The Battle of Wad-Rass
1860 - 1861
Paper attached to cardboard
Height: 54 cm; Width: 185 cm
New Acquisitions, 1878; Museo de Arte Moderno until 1968; Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, 1968-1971

Bibliography +

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.

De la Puente, Joaquín, Casón del Buen Retiro. Catálogo de las pinturas del siglo XIX, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1985, pp. 76.

Puente, Joaquín de la, Un dibujo de Fortuny al dorso de su 'Batalla de Wad-Ras', Boletín del Museo del Prado, IX, 1988, pp. 92.

González López, Carlos, Mariano Fortuny Marsal. Catálogo de óleos y acuarelas. Catálogo de Dibujos. Tomo II, Diccionari Rafols, Barcelona, 1989, pp. 37.

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.

Carbonell, Jordi, Maria Fortuny i la Descoberta D'Africa. Els Dibuixos de la Guerra Hispanomarroquina 1859-1860, Columna Edicions, Barcerlona, 1999, pp. 132-41.

Doñate Font, Mercé, Fortuny (1838-1874), Mnac, Barcelona, 2003, pp. 98.

Diez, J.L; Barón, J., El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 285/ lám.62.

Torres González, Begoña, Fortuny: un mundo en miniatura, Libsa, Madrid, 2008, pp. 174.

Carbonell, Jordi, De la trinchera al atelier. En:, La Batalla de Tetuán de Fortuny: De la trinchera al Museo, Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2013, pp. 37-109.

Quílez i Corella, Francesc, La Batalla de Tetuán, del atelier al Museo. En:, La Batalla de Tetuán de Fortuny: De la trinchera al Museo, Museu Nacional d´Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2013, pp. 113-139.

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 [242-243].

Bertrand Dorléac, Laurence, Les désastres de la guerre, 1800-2014, Somogy éditions d´art: Musée du Louvre-Lens, 2014, pp. 131 n.76.

Díez, José Luis (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 191-192.

Reyero, Carlos, Fortuny o el arte como distinción de clase, Cátedra, Madrid, 2017, pp. 63-67.

G. Navarro, C, 'Mariano Fortuny. La Batalla de Wad-Rass' En:, Fortuny (1838-1874), Museo Nacional del Prado,, Madrid, 2017, pp. 118-120 n.11.

Other inventories +

Actas del envío de cuadros del Prado al Museo de Arte Moderno. Núm. 461.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1985. Núm. 4331.

Catálogo Museo de Arte Moderno, 1900. Núm. 131.
SECCIÓN DE PINTURA EN SUS DIVERSAS CLASES, DIBUJOS Y GRABADOS EN LÁMINAS. / Fortuny (D. Mariano) [...] 131.- La batalla de Wad-Ras (Episodio de la guerra de África). / Alto 0'64 metros. Ancho 1'85 metros.

Inv. General del Museo de Arte Moderno, 1899-1902. Núm. 84.

Catálogo Museo de Arte Moderno, 1899. Núm. 119.
SECCIÓN DE PINTURA EN SUS DIVERSAS CLASES, DIBUJOS Y GRABADOS EN LAMINAS. / FORTUNY (D. Mariano) [...] 119.- La batalla de Wad-Ras (Episodio de la guerra de África). / Alto 1'85 metros. Ancho 0'54 metros.

Inv. Museo Arte Moderno, 1954. Núm. 173.

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 26-F y 42-F.

Actas traslado de obras MEAC - Prado, 1971-1973. Núm. 885.

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 461.
461 / Autor Dn Mariano Fortuny / Lienzo Batalla de Wad-Ras / Alto 1'85 Ancho 0'54 // [nota al margen=] Adquirido por el Estado con destino a l Museo Nl de Pintura y Escultura el dia 29 Junio 1878 en 20.000 pesetas // [con otra grafía=] (Remitido al Museo del Prado fha 29 Junio 1878) / [con otra grafía=] Pasó al Museo de Arte moderno

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1889. Núm. 86.
FORTUNY (D. MARIANO). / Natural de Reus, provincia de / Tarragona, discípulo de D. Claudio / Lorenzale. / 86— Batalla de Wad-Ras. / Alto, 1,85 metros.—Ancho, 54 centímetros.

Inscriptions +

M.A.M. 26 (F)
Inscribed in black. Front, lower right corner

Servicio de Defensa del Patrimonio Artístico Nacional
Scrap of paper. Back

T. 461
Inscribed in yellow. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Fortuny (1838-1874)
21.11.2017 - 18.03.2018

Les Desastres de la Guerre
28.05.2014 - 06.10.2014

La Batalla de Tetuán de Fortuny. ´Biografía´ de una pintura emblemática
18.04.2013 - 15.09.2013

El Siglo XIX en el Prado
31.10.2007 - 20.04.2008

Mariano Fortuny
16.10.2003 - 18.01.2004

Location +

Room 063B (On Display)

Update date: 11-04-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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