Description In 1892 the municipal government of Barcelona authorized Fortuny to return to North Africa to refresh his memory for painting the "Battle of Wad-Ras." He left Rome in September and spent two months making drawings and studies in oils and watercolors near Tangier, Tetuan, Fondach, and Wad-Ras. On his return to Europe in December he spent several months in Barcelona at the home of his early benefactor, Buenaventura Palau, to whom he presented the first version of this subject. Subsequently, he painted a variant which entered the collection of M. Foll of Geneva and eventually that of William H. Vanderbilt of New York (Sale, April 18-19, 1945, no. 43). This version was sent by Fortuny to Goupil et Cie, in Paris, where it was purchased by William H. Stewart at the instigation of the painter Zamacoïs. Other versions include the "Arab Fantasia" sold at the E. Secrétan Sale, Paris, July 1, 1890, no. 28, and also, perhaps, a large unlocated work listed as "Fantasia Arabe à Grenade," at the Fortuny Sale, Paris, 1875, no. 65, and as "Fantasia arabe à la porte de Tanger," at the Sedelmeyer Sale, Paris, April 30, May 2, 1877, no. 119. In addition, a "Fantasia arabe à Tanger" was listed at the Fortuny Sale, Paris, 1875, no. 85, as a preliminary study for the Stewart-Walters picture. A drawing of the principle figures is in the Hípola Collection, Madrid. Fortuny's composition is a departure from the usual representation of the subject as seen in paintings by Delacroix and Fromentin, in that the Arab warriors are performing their wild, ritualistic exercise on foot rather than on horseback. In this picture the scene transpires before an indistinct cavernous background, whereas in the Foll and Secrétan variants an architectural backdrop is clearly defined. With its overhead lighting and sharp contrast between the brilliant colors of the costumes of the performers and spectators and the darkness of the background, this painting is perhaps the most dramatic variant.
- Cent chefs d'oeuvres des collections parisiennes. Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. 1883.
- Exposition Universelle. Paris. 1878.
- Fortuny and His Circle. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1970.
- Fortuny, 1838-1874. Centro Cultural de la Fundacio la Caixa, Barcelona. 1989.
- Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso. Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Meadows Museum, Dallas. 2005-2006.
- 19th Century Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin. 2010-2011.
- L'Orientalisme, de Delacroix a Kandinsky. Musees royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels; Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille, Marseille. 2010-2011.
- From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
- Mariano Fortuny (1838 – 1874). Museo del Prado. 2017-2018.
Provenance William H. Stewart Sale, New York, February 3-4, 1898, no. 27 ; Henry Walters, Baltimore, February 1898, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.  sold for $12,000 (annotated auction catalog, WAM library)
Inscriptions [Signature] Lower right: Fortuny Roma; [Date] Lower right: 1867
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1898
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