fbpx
Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Mariano Fortuny – A Genius From Venice

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, A negative of the view of San Mark's Square from Punto della Dogana, early 20th century, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy.

Artists' Stories

Mariano Fortuny – A Genius From Venice

Well, I lied. Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo was not originally from Venice, as he was born in Granada in 1871, a son of a painter also called Mariano Fortuny. However, he is considered a naturalized Venetian as he spent most of his life in Venice, dedicating his artistic talent and genius to the city.

Painting

Mariano Fortuny, A view on a Venetian canal from a gondola, beginning of the XX cent., Palazzo Pesaro Orfei - Musei Civici Veneziani, Mariano fortuny genius from venice
Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, A View on a Venetian Canal From a Gondola, early 20th century, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy.

Following the early death of his father, Mariano and the family moved to Paris, where the boy studied fine art. Later, his mother moved the family to Venice when Mariano had just turned 18 and he quickly became a member of Venetian high society. He frequented intellectual and artistic circles, making friends with the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, the actress Eleonora Duse, the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the duchess Luisa Casati, the painter Giovanni Boldini, and even the prince Fritz Hohenlohe-Waldenburg. In this period he also met his future wife, Henriette Negrin, a Parisian who became his model, muse, and collaborator.

Set Design

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Wagnerian Series: Parsifal, 1896, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy. mariano fortuny a genius from venice
Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Wagnerian Series: Parsifal, 1896, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy.

Fascinated by Richard Wagner, he decided to travel to Bayreuth, a visit that turned his interests towards set design and lighting practices. He wanted to, precisely as Wagner did, unite music and theatre sets. In 1900, he designed sets and costumes for the premiere of Tristan and Isolde in the most famous Milanese opera house, La Scala, while at the same time he worked on an innovative lighting system that would free the stage from using direct light sources and make them more diffused, a project called “Dome”. Thanks to the financial support of the duchess Bearn, he managed to install his system in her private theatre in 1906. The design, which allowed the projection of colorful skies and clouds onto the stage, was a huge breakthrough and was taken up by various German theatres.

Fashion

A model wearing Delphos dress and a stamped silken robe, c. 1920. Photographed by Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo.
A model wearing a Delphos dress and a stamped silken robe, c. 1920, photographed by Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo. Pinterest.

Yet, Mariano had already moved onto a new area. He began designing fabrics and stamped materials together with his future wife Henriette. It was the silk dress, Delphos, which they designed together in 1907, that made them famous worldwide. Marcel Proust described it as faithfully antique but markedly original. The popularity of his designs was so high that in 1919 he opened a factory in Giudecca Island, where he worked on clothes made from a new material – cotton.

The Museum

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Portrait of Henriette, 1915, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy. mariano fortuny a genius from venice
Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, Portrait of Henriette, 1915, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy.

The family lived in the Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, today the Fortuny Museum, where Mariano could shut himself away from the world in his private library, working on paintings, architectural models for theatres, photography, and fashion design.

A view of the Salon of Mariano Fortuny, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy. Fortuny Museum.
A view of the Salon of Mariano Fortuny, Fortuny Museum, Venice, Italy. Fortuny Museum.

After Mariano’s death in 1949, his palazzo was donated to the city of Venice and made a museum in 1975. Today you can see the eclectic collection of various objects amassed by Mariano, his paintings and models, and a collection of 20th century Italian art.


Learn more about modern Italian art:

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

Comments

More in Artists' Stories

  • 20th century

    Christo and Jeanne-Claude: With Love through Art

    By

    If two people are born on precisely the same day, they must be destined to meet. He was Bulgarian, she was French. They met when he was called in to paint a portrait of her mother. They fell in love and began working together to create...

  • 20th century

    A Unique Artist Encounter: When Ara Güler Met Pablo Picasso

    By

    Whether photography is purely art or a branch of journalism can be a subject of discussion. For photographer Ara Güler, the artistic quality of his profession was definitely of secondary importance. He saw his photography projects as adventures that he took to document his age. One...

  • 20th century

    Dive into the World of Fairy Tales with Čiurlionis

    By

    Wouldn’t it be nice to immerse yourself in a fairy tale: hike among the heroes, fight monsters, visit enchanted lands? It would be a nice break from reality for sure. That is why today we present paintings that dwell in the fantasy world of fairy tales...

  • 20th century

    Living in the Shadow – Marie and Peder Severin Krøyer

    By

    Marie and Peder Severin Krøyer were a 19th and early 20th century couple, and, while their marriage and lives were far from ideal, history has judged them both to have been truly notable painters. When Peder Severin Krøyer met the young Marie, he was already an established...

  • Abstraction

    All You Need to Know About Color Field Painting

    By

    Ready for a rollercoaster ride through the world of color field painting? Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a long and wild ride! This article will explore all you need to know about this art movement, its development throughout history, and its most prominent artists....

To Top