When I think of Mariano Fortuny, lush velvets and delicate, pleated silks come to mind. The “Delphos” dress is a classic. The “Fortuny lampshade” is also. The beautiful damask fabrics, the gorgeous clothes. His mystique. What I did not realize is that he was also a very gifted painter. And engraver. And stage and lighting set designer. Some of his inventions set new benchmarks in theater that are still followed today.
Mariano Fortuny (y Madrazo) was born in Grenada, Spain in 1871. After his painter father’s early death at age 36 of malaria in 1874, his mother moved her two young children to Paris, where Mariano was encouraged to study painting and etching under his uncle’s tuteledge. He was introduced to many of the artists at the time through his family and exposed to many styles of painting. In 1889, his mother moved the family to Venice. Mariano spent time in both Venice and Paris, before finally settling in the Palazzo Orfei. Today it is now called the Palazzo Fortuny, as it houses the museum dedicated to Fortuny and his works.
Here are some views of the Palazzo Fortuny:
Fortuny worked in oils, gouache and tempera, creating his own color pigments. He favored copper plate etching, which, along with his painting, greatly influenced his later creations in silk and velvet. He learned the subtle use of color and the importance of light to achieve the dramatic effects seen in his textiles.
Here are some of Fortuny’s paintings:
Here Fortuny painted his own Palazzo:
And last, but not least, my favorite: