‘If only he had lived longer': Fortuny, Catalonia’s greatest Orientalist painter

Barcelona celebrates the legacy of Catalonia’s greatest Orientalist, Marià Fortuny, as the National Museum of Catalan Art exhibits 50 of his prints, some of them never put on show before.

(AhramOnline) “Ask any art enthusiast about Catalonia’s most famous painters and they will tell you Dalí and Miró. Ask ‘who else?’ and you will get a long pause and a confused look.” This is Jordi Reixach’s experience as a Catalan history of art professor.

“Some may mention Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol or Antoni Tápies. Some would even tell you Picasso, just because he lived in Barcelona, even though he was from Malaga.”

“And Fortuny?” I asked.

“Fortuny? Well, what a spectacular painter he was! If only he lived longer,” he sighed.

Like many great artists who died young (Raphael, Caravaggio, Gorky), Marià Fortuny, who died at the age of 36, left a big question mark about what sort of legacy he would have had, if he had lived longer.

Who was he? What makes him “special” as an Orientalist? The National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC) in Barcelona is a good place to find the answer, especially following the recent renovation of the graphic work section to exhibit his drawings and prints.

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