3 Fortuny cotton drapery panels stenciled with de Medici pattern, 1950s
The novelist Marcel Proust described Fortuny as "faithfully antique but powerfully original." In the section of Remembrance of Things Past titled The Captive, the personage Fortuny constitutes an entire leitmotiv. In all of Proust's work, Fortuny is the only character who retains a real life identity, a testimony to his cultural importance.
This fabric, stenciled with the de Medici pattern, was purchased in Italy by a traveling American in the late 1950s. The Fortuny stamp, always along the selvedge, was cut off when the drapes were made.
The fabric for both the drapes and valence, purchased at the same time, likely was of the same hue when new. Sixty years later the valence is slightly more red, while the drapes are slightly more yellow. The two still look fabulous together.
The popularity of Fortuny's designs had spread from the cultured elite to the broader public just when Europe was feeling impoverished after WWI. The expensive silk and velvet fabrics hand produced in his small workshop could not meet the demand.
In 1919 Fortuny decided to increase production and to use less expensive fabrics. After much experimentation, he settled on long-staple Egyptian cotton as the ground cloth for his new creations. Under the name Società Anonima Fortuny, his "factory output" still required significant manual labor to maintain his high standards.
Although Fortuny stenciled patterns are still produced today, lovers of textile art appreciate the superior quality of his vintage pieces and value them more highly than modern versions. This exceptional find is a twofer: you get the high quality of a vintage textile without the wear in a used piece.
Mariano Fortuny's legendary textile collection provided the inspiration for his own textiles. After a 1907 visit to Fortuny's home, the Palazzo Orfei, Henri de Régnier wrote:
Fortuny has revived the dyeing processes of the old weavers and decorators, in whose tradition he has created very beautiful materials for wall-hangings and for clothing, which rival those produced by the craftsmen of the past.
In December 2012, The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute will present Fortuny y Madrazo: An Artistic Legacy. This will be a rare opportunity to see the master's textiles, either in person or online.
The condition is almost excellent. Two of the panels are perfect. The third panel has four tiny holes in a cluster 4" from the side and 9" up from the bottom.
Each panel is 25" wide by 95" tall. The total is about 4.6 yards.