At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase
The Meadows Museum presents a focused summer exhibition pairing its recent acquisition “Beach at Portici” (1874), by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, with a loan from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, “Idle Hours” (1894), by William Merritt Chase.
The painters Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838–1874) and William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) were separated by more than ten years of age, the Atlantic Ocean, and different backgrounds. This focused exhibition, however, highlights a modern subject popular among international circles in the nineteenth century, and one that both painters treated with remarkable skill: people at the beach.
Recently acquired by the Meadows Museum, Fortuny’s very last painting Beach at Portici (1874) depicts the artist’s family enjoying leisure time at the beach while residing in Italy. Painted around two decades later, Chase’s canvas Idle Hours (c. 1894) similarly portrays the artist’s family dressed in billowing and fashionable white garments lounging in a lush green landscape near a curving coastline.
This is the first time these two works have been displayed together, and together the two paintings represent a single case study that elucidates the larger affinity Chase had for his Spanish predecessor. Chase and Fortuny were truly cosmopolitan painters and the dialogue between Beach at Portici and Idle Hours speaks eloquently to that fact.