Arab Chief by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (Spanish, 1838-1874)
Oil on canvas
48 3/8 x 31 3/8 in (122.8 x 79.7cm)
Painted in 1874
Ever since his first sojourn in Morocco in 1860, Fortuny always felt drawn by oriental themes and especially by the strong light of Northern Africa. His Moroccan stay marked a profound turn in the painting style of the master, working more and more in a luministic style, which Sorolla would inherit later.
Fortuny combined in this canvas a sharp chiaroscuro by situating his figure in a strong light, and his usual interest in rendering with minute precision all the details we see in the weapons and textile. In this way he was able to showcase his perfect draughtsmanship which the Catalan painter elevated to extremely high levels. There seems to be a clear desire on the part of the artist to endow the figure with a certain historical truth based more on ethnographic realism rather than the stereotyped images created by other European travellers.
This Image and translated text have been kindly provided by Carlos Ygoa. (Source: Joan Miquel Llodrà,Grandes Genios del Arte Contemporáneo Español – El siglo XX, FORTUNY p. 126)