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Limited, 600. Highly Recommended. By Peter Richardson. The art of Fortunino Matania might have slipped from public view, but to connoisseurs of great illustration he remains in a league of his own. Now, for the first time ever, Book Palace presents a collection of some of his most powerful and awe-inspiring depictions of historical characters. Includes an introduction to Matania’s art and career, including photographs of him in his studio, with models, and the techniques he employed. Many nudes. Many images scanned directly from the originals. Book Palace, 2021.

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The art of Fortunino Matania might have slipped from public view, but to connoisseurs of great illustration he remains in a league of his own. Now, for the first time ever, Book Palace presents a collection of some of his most powerful and awe-inspiring depictions of historical characters. Includes an introduction to Matania’s art and career, including photographs of him in his studio, with models, and the techniques he employed. Many nudes. Many images scanned directly from the originals.

Here is more about the artist, taken from my description of his still-available book, also from Book Palace, Drawing from History:

One of the most talented and respected illustrators of the 20th century, but still little known outside a small group of fans. Enjoy his meticulously accurate historical drawings and paintings of antiquity, the Roman era, British history and English Kings and Queens, his book illustrations for Kipling stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tasteful nudity.

His work inspired many contemporary artists: renowned Spanish painter Pietro Annigoni and Russell Flint both visited his studio. Many comic strip artists collected his work including Al Williamson, Roy Krenkel, Frank Frazetta, John Bolton, Bernie Wrightson as well as film directors such as Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock. Mark Schultz is a fan. And Bill Stout.

His artwork has to be seen to believed, what he could accomplish with a pencil and some white highlight!!! His photographic memory first served him making war-time illustrations in WWI and it gave him the ability to capture faces and anatomy like few artists can, as well as accurate period costumes.

He is an unsung master, not only for his incredible talent, his superb costumes and historical accuracy, his ability to depict all eras of history and battles and fascinating events…but also for his women and the abundant nudes he was able to incorporate into his work (Great Britain is far more liberal than the U.S. in allowing nudity in their illustrated publications, even back when these were appearing in the 1920s and early 30s)! Much of his work was actually done in pencil, but he was also a prolific pen and ink artist and full color painter.

The British Royal family purchased his originals and John Singer Sargent admired and purchased one of his paintings at the Royal Academy. He was made a Chevalier of the Crown of Italy and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and Royal Institute of Art in London.

 

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