The sensational discovery in the early twentieth century of the prehistoric civilisation of Crete, named Minoan after the mythical king Minos, and the contemporary birth of Modern Art in Europe has led many scholars to discern analogies between Minoan art and Art Nouveau. This work analyses the entity and significance of Minoan art in the textile productions that made the name of the artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo. The famous "Knossos shawls", created by Fortuny from 1906 on in his Venetian studio in Palazzo Pesaro Orfei, which has now become the Fortuny museum, feature decorative motifs taken from the decorations visible on vases and frescoes in the famous Minoan centres of Crete, such as Knossòs and Festòs, dating to the second millennium BC. Understanding his way of representing the past and the exotic – in particular the Minoan civilisation of Crete – and bringing it back to life, allows us to penetrate the expectations and the demands of European society between the 19th and the 20th centuries. The reference to a culture such as the Minoan, which precisely at the beginning of the 20th century was dubbed by the academic world as a "modern" civilisation and defined as quintessentially the first "European" civilisation, contributed to render the Knossos shawls inspired by it the very height of fashion.
in the Catalogue