Seeing Double

Art museums in Fort Worth and Dallas team up for first exhibition together

Art museums in Fort Worth, Dallas team up for first exhibit together

Idle Hours, William Chase, Amon Carter Museum, Meadows Museum
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849-1916), Idle Hours, 1894. Oil on canvas.  Photo courtesy of Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Beach at Portici by Mariano Fortuny, Meadows Museum
Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (Spanish, 1838-1874), Beach at Portici, 1874. Oil on canvas.  Photo courtesy of Meadows Museum
Idle Hours, William Chase, Amon Carter Museum, Meadows Museum
Beach at Portici by Mariano Fortuny, Meadows Museum

For the first time, Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum of American Art and Dallas' Meadows Museum will pair their paintings together in one exhibition, doubling the summer fun for art lovers.

Meadows will present the focused exhibit, pairing its recent acquisition Beach at Portici (1874), by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838-1874), with a loan from the Carter, Idle Hours (1894), by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916).

"At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase" will explore Chase’s admiration of Fortuny, through the two paintings — one by the American artist and one by his Spanish predecessor — going on display together June 24-September 23, 2018.

The pairing makes sense. Although the artists were separated by time and geography and never actually met, museum officials say, their paintings represent a dialogue that speaks eloquently of a bond between them. In both paintings, the artists each use beach scenes to showcase their skill at rendering light, for example. Also, both 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.

Finally, the paintings share similar compositions, the organizers say — 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. 

“Chase said of Fortuny, ‘Everything he did was interesting.’ And he was not alone in his admiration for the Spanish painter, who was extremely popular in America at the turn of the century," says Amanda W. Dotseth, co-curator of the exhibition with Mark A. Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum, in a release. "But while Chase never knew Fortuny the man, he certainly knew Fortuny’s paintings, including Beach at Portici, which Chase would have had ample opportunity to see in America — most notably at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the year before he painted Idle Hours."

Adds Roglán, "Despite their differing career trajectories, each artist achieved fame as a cosmopolitan painter. They were celebrated for these canvases, which present painterly beach scenes with scintillating summer light while celebrating the extraordinary beauty to be found in everyday moments with family."

The museums have not announced if the companion works will go on display at the Fort Worth museum in the future.

The following public programs will complement the summer exhibition:

Three Thursdays, May 31, June 7, and 14, 6-7:30 pm
Lecture series: "Light, Camera, Landscape: The Rise of International Impressionism" by Nancy Cohen Israel, art historian and owner of Art à la Carte
This series will trace the rise of Impressionism in France, the offshoots of painters in Spain and Italy, and the aftershocks sent throughout the West. $40 for the 3-part series; free for Museum members and SMU faculty, staff, and students; registration required at 214-768-8587.

Saturday, June 23, 10 am-1 pm
Community Day: A Day at the Beach
Spend the day at the beach and take in the light of late 19th century masters Mariano Fortuny y Marsal of Spain and William Merritt Chase of the United States. This dedicated community day will include art making, gallery talks, a storyteller, refreshments, and more. Free.

Thursday, June 28, 6-7 pm
Lecture: "At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase" by Mark A. Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum, and Andrew Walker, executive director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This special double lecture will examine the creation of Beach at Portici and Idle Hours. The two painters turned to more private and personal scenes in their later work, which will be the subject of this special program held in conjunction with the summer installation. Free; reservations required at 214-768-8587.