The Meadows Museum, SMU, will examine the far-reaching influence of 19th-century Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838–1874) in the new exhibition “Fortuny: Friends and Followers.”
During his lifetime and well into the early 20th century, Fortuny was extremely popular in both Europe and the United States. His proto-Impressionist style and “exotic” genre scenes influenced so many artists that the style came to be described with its very own “ism”: “Fortunismo.”
“Fortuny: Friends and Followers” will explore that legacy by bringing together works from a diverse group of artists, including William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815–1891), John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), and James Tissot (1836–1902), as well as major works by Fortuny.
With almost 70 works by 23 artists, the exhibition will address a variety of themes, including intimate representations of family and home, cosmopolitan life in Europe’s major cities at the time, and the connections between and among the artists themselves. Included in the show are “Beach at Portici” (1874), the major painting Fortuny was working on at his death, acquired by the Meadows Museum in January 2018, and “The Choice of a Model” (1868–74), an important work by the artist on long-term loan from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Also on view will be a number of drawings and illustrated letters from the album compiled by William Hood Stewart (1820–1897), Fortuny’s chief American patron. Also in the Meadows Museum’s collection, “The Stewart Album” (1860–90) impressionistically records the great American collector’s acquaintance with the Parisian artistic community, and is crucial to understanding Fortuny’s social world.
“Today Fortuny is not a household name, but his popularity and influence in the 1860s and early 1870s cannot be overstated,” says Meadows Museum Curator Amanda W. Dotseth. “He was one of the best-selling artists of his time and lived a cosmopolitan lifestyle that seamlessly blended work with leisure. He traveled frequently between southern Spain, Paris, Rome, Naples, and Venice with an impressive entourage of friends and followers in tow. And, although he died at only thirty-six years old, his legacy long survived him through his works, which would inspire later generations of artists, from Vincent van Gogh to Dalí and Picasso.”