SMU's Meadows Museum presents "At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase"
The Meadows Museum at SMU presents a focused summer exhibition pairing its recent acquisition, Beach at Portici (1874), by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838–1874), with a loan from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Idle Hours (1894), by William Merritt Chase (1849–1916). “At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase” explores Chase’s admiration of Fortuny, through two key paintings, one by the American artist and one by his Spanish predecessor, displayed together for the first time.
The depiction of leisure time at the beach was popular in late 19th-century painting, and both Fortuny and Chase used beach scenes to showcase their great skill at rendering light. In both paintings, the artists portray their respective families in fashionable white garments lounging near a curving coastline, Fortuny’s in southern Italy and Chase’s on Long Island, New York. The two paintings even share similar compositions, defined by strong diagonals and a balance of land, sky and figures, as well as loose, fluid brushstrokes that capture the effects bright summer sunlight on earth, sea, sky and skin. Even though the artists were separated by time and geography and never actually met, their paintings transcend distance, representing a dialogue that speaks eloquently of a bond between them.