Priceless Piece

SMU's Meadows Museum acquires last painting by famed Spanish artist

SMU's Meadows Museum acquires last painting by famed Spanish artist

Beach at Portici by Mariano Fortuny, Meadows Museum
The Meadows Museum has acquired the last painting of famed Spanish artist Mariano Fortuny, Beach at Portici. Photo courtesy of Meadows Museum

Spanish art enthusiasts have a new reason to visit the Meadows Museum. The museum announced on Thursday, January 18 that it has acquired Beach at Portici, the final painting of famed 19th century Spanish artist Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838-1874), for an undisclosed amount.

The nearly finished piece depicts a summer day at the beach and demonstrates Fortuny’s signature ability to capture light in paint. It also reflects essential elements of Fortuny’s style, including dynamically posed figures, the use of strong architectural elements to define the space around the figures, and brushwork that anticipates the rise of Impressionism, museum officials say. 

“Painted in Italy, sold in Paris after his death, and owned exclusively by American collectors in the decades since, Beach at Portici embodies the international character of Fortuny’s brief career,” says Mark Roglán, the Linda P. and William A. Custard director of the Meadows Museum, in a press release. “For these reasons, as well as its obvious beauty, it makes a perfect acquisition for the Meadows.”

In 1893, Beach at Portici was featured in the esteemed American Pavilion’s “Loan Collection of Foreign Masterpieces Owned in the United States” at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, considered one of the most important international exhibitions of the 19th century.

Beach at Portici will be on view at the Meadows Museum on the SMU campus beginning January 19. And from June 24 through September 23, it will be the subject of a focused exhibition, "At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase," paired with a loan from Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Chase’s Idle Hours (c. 1894).

The new acquisition complements the only oil painting by the artist currently in the museum’s collection: a small study composition of the same stretch of beach at Portici.

The Meadows Museum is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain.