Fortuny Museum in Venice: a must see gem


Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Laura Teso

One of the most beautiful Venetian museums? In my opinion, the Fortuny Museum in Venice is one of the most fascinating. Nestled in the heart of San Marco area,  it offers visitors a unique opportunity to step into the world of Mariano Fortuny, a remarkable artist, designer, and inventor. This hidden gem is a tribute to his legacy, showcasing his exquisite creations and the indelible mark he left on the world of art and fashion. 

On the night of November 12th, 2019 an exceptional acqua alta hit Venice. It severely damaged the ground floor of the Fortuny Museum. So much so that the complex was closed for a long time due to restoration works. It reopened in March 2022.

Fortuny Museum Venice
Fortuny Museum Venice

Who was Mariano Fortuny?

Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949) was a Spanish artist with diverse talents. He was a painter, printmaker, designer, and inventor, whose innovative ideas have continued to inspire artists and designers for generations. Fortuny was famous for his ability to merge various art forms, often blending the traditional with the avant-garde.

Some of his most iconic inventions, works, and creations include:

  • Fortuny Delphos Gowns: luxurious and elegant dresses made from finely pleated silk with timeless style and innovative use of fabric. They remain highly coveted by fashion enthusiasts and collectors today.
  • Fortuny Lighting: Mariano Fortuny designed innovative lighting fixtures that featured his signature pleated silk shades. His lighting designs are still highly appreciated for their unique and beautiful aesthetic.
  • Fortuny Lamps: Apart from his lighting fixtures, Fortuny also designed lamps that featured his characteristic style and attention to detail.
  • Fortuny Textile Printing: Fortuny was a pioneer in textile design and printing. He developed his own techniques for creating intricate and exotic textile patterns, often inspired by Oriental and Renaissance motifs. His textiles were used not only for clothing but also for upholstery and interior decoration.
  • Stage Design: Fortuny was a renowned stage designer, particularly known for his work on theatrical productions, including operas and plays. He developed innovative lighting and staging techniques that transformed the way theatrical performances were presented.
  • Paintings: Fortuny was a talented painter, and his works often featured scenes from his travels and studies of different cultures.
  • Photography: Fortuny was an early adopter of photography and experimented with various photographic techniques. He used photography as a tool for documentation and as an artistic medium in its own right.

Why Venice?

Mariano Fortuny believed that Venice was the ideal place to cultivate his creativity and passion for both art and design. In 1889, he established his residence and workshop in the Palazzo Pesaro Orfei, where the Fortuny Museum now resides. 

Fortuny Museum in Venice
Fortuny Museum in Venice

The city’s rich cultural history, stunning architecture, and picturesque canals provided endless inspiration for Fortuny’s work. Venice’s timelessness and artistic allure still echo through his creations, making it a fitting location for the Fortuny Museum.

He transformed the palace into a total work of art, designing not only the textiles and furnishings, but also the lighting and architecture. Fortuny lived and worked in the palace until his death in 1949.

The Fortuny Museum houses a collection of Fortuny’s work, including textiles, paintings, photographs, and stage designs. The museum also has a collection of Fortuny’s personal belongings, including his furniture, clothing, and jewelry.

Fortuny Museum Venice
Fortuny Museum Venice

Fortuny Fabrics and Fortuny Factory

One of Mariano Fortuny’s most enduring contributions to the world of fashion and design is his signature fabric. Fortuny fabrics have a unique, handcrafted designs and intricate manufacturing process. He perfected the technique of pleating silk fabric to create garments that draped elegantly and moved with the wearer’s body.

On Giudecca island there’s the factory (a former convent) and showroom of Fortuny fabrics, founded in 1921 by Mariano Fortuny. He chose Giudecca island in order to have a place to produce his fabrics on a large scale. The factory has secret printing methods and specially designed machinery for producing luxury damasks, velvets, and brocades which are used by some of the most famous designers in the world, such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. I have never visited it. Not yet. But I hope I have the chance to do so one day.

What You’ll Discover at the Fortuny Museum in Venice

The Fortuny Museum in Venice is a treasure trove of Mariano Fortuny’s creations, offering visitors a glimpse into his multifaceted genius. Among the rooms you can admire are:

Wagner Room, with paintings depicting scenes from Wagner’s opus.

Fortuny family collection, featuring the most disparate objects, from tapestries to weapons.

Fortuny style room, displaying some of the most beautiful gowns created by Fortuny for

Workshop: the workshop where Fortuny conducted his experiments and brought his artistic visions to life.

The Winter Garden: my favorite part, with a painting cycle on the wall, covering three sides of the room. Thanks to the artifice called trompe l’œil it surrounds you with allegorical figures set in a loggiato with luxuriant plants. So that you feel like you really are in a wonderful winter garden.

Fortuny Museum Venice
Fortuny Museum Venice

Plus, the museum often hosts temporary exhibitions, providing fresh perspectives on Fortuny’s work and the influence he continues to exert on contemporary art and fashion.

In summary, the Fortuny Museum in Venice is a captivating destination for those interested in art, design, history, and culture. It offers a chance to explore the legacy of a talented artist, appreciate the beauty of his creations, and immerse yourself in the cultural richness of Venice in a unique and atmospheric setting.

Have you ever visited the Fortuny Museum in Venice? I thinks it’s really worth a visit!

Fortuny Museum in Venice

S. Marco, 3958, Venezia. Opening hours: closed on Tuesdays. The other days: 10 am – 6 pm

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