After training in the Academy of Barcelona and the Academia Giggi in Rome, the Catalan painter Mariano Fortuny y Marsal(1838 - 1874) was commissioned to depict the campaigns of the Hispano-Moroccan War in 1859, the start of his long-standing interest in Orientalist themes; he was notable for "his astonishing dexterity and his marvellously sensitive eye..."* Beginning in 1866, he frequently came to Paris, and soon had an exclusive contract with the renowned dealer, Adolphe Goupil.
An accomplished printmaker, he early acquired a substantial reputation, especially in Paris, where a number of his prints were published:
Even as an etcher he caught all the technical finesses and appetising piquancies of his great forerunner Goya. It is only with very light and spirited strokes that the outlines of his figures are drawn; then, as in Goya, comes the aquatint, the colour which covers the background and gives locality, depth, and light. A few scratches with a needle, a black spot, a light made by a judiciously inserted patch of white, and he gives his figures life and character, causing them to emerge from the black depth of the background like mysterious visions. **
He met with an untimely death in
Rome at the age of 36, and his sale at Drouot the following year was a
spectacular event, where even his etchings fetched "marvellous prices".
Tanger, Arabes Assis
|* Richard Muther, History of Modern Painting, Breslau, 1907, Vol. 3, p. 309
** idem, P. 311