Mariano Fortuny Y Marsal (Reus 1838 - Rome 1874)

The Tapestry Merchant Sold

Watercolour.
Signed, dated and dedicated al amich Moragas / Fortuny / Roma 1867 at the lower right.
301 x 203 mm. (11 7/8 x 8 in.)

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The subject of a tapestry merchant was a popular one among Orientalist artists, for it allowed for a range of characters and types, as well as the bright colours of the wares themselves. The present sheet is closely related to a larger, finished watercolour by Fortuny of the same title, today in the collection of the Museu de Montserrat in Catalonia; a work which has been described as ‘his masterpiece in watercolour’. The two figures in this drawing reappear, with a number of differences of detail, pose and costume, in the centre of the larger watercolour, which is signed and dated 1870. Drawn a few years earlier, the present watercolour ‘portrays a salesman showing his fabrics to a musician who is carrying his instrument on his back. On this occasion Fortuny has dispensed with surroundings, creating a sharp contrast to the dark background by means of black patches of varying gradations and the white robes worn by the two characters.’ Fortuny also treated the same subject, but with a different composition, in a watercolour of 1868-1869.

This drawing bears Fortuny’s dedication to his close friend, the Catalan painter Tomàs Moragas i Torras (1837-1906), whom he met when both were art students in Barcelona. Moragas first visited Rome in 1858, and shared a studio with Fortuny for several years. He returned briefly to Barcelona in 1864 but was back in Rome in 1866, where, under the influence of Fortuny, he developed an interest in Orientalist subjects, which continued after he had settled in Naples. In 1870 he met Fortuny in Granada, and the two painters travelled together to Morocco.

Provenance:
Given by the artist to Tomàs Moragas i Torras, Rome and Naples
Private collection, Spain.

Literature:
Del Museu: Butlletí del Museu de Reus, June 1989, p.9; Carlos González and Montse Martí, ed., Fortuny 1838-1874, exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 1989, p.202, no.39, illustrated in colour p.150 (as dated 1869); Carlos González López and Montserrat Martí Ayxelá, Mariano Fortuny Marsal, Barcelona, 1989, Vol.I, illustrated in colour p.265, fig.112, Vol.II, p.42, no.OR-0.05.67; Carlos González López and Montse Martí Ayxelá, ‘Documenta Fortunyana’, Archivo Español de Arte, Nos.253-256, 1991, p.304; Carlos González and Montse Martí, M. Fortuny 1838-1874, exhibition catalogue, A Coruña and elsewhere, 1997, no.11; Dolores Duran, Carlos González López and Montserrat Martí Ayxelà, Fortuny, exhibition catalogue, Zaragoza, 1998, pp.114-115, no.25; Mercé Doñate, Cristina Mendoza and Francesc M. Quílez i Corella, ed., Fortuny, exhibition catalogue, Barcelona, 2003, pp.160-161, no.45 and p.226, under no.78, also p.518, no.45 and p.524, under no.78 (entry by Mercé Doñate).

Mariano FORTUNY Y MARSAL

The Tapestry Merchant

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