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Fortunino Matania
(1881 — 1963)

Fortunino Matania was an Italian painter. Born in Naples, Italy in 1881, Matania was the son of artist Eduoardo Matania. Encouraged by his father, Matania began practising drawing and painting from a very young age. It is said that at the age of 11 Matania exhibited his first work at the Naples Academy, and the artist spent much of his adolescence producing accomplished illustrations for the weekly publication ‘L’Illustrazione Italiania’. In 1901 Matania began working in Paris, France for ‘Illustration Francaise’, and was later invited to London, England in 1902 to illustrate the coronation of King Edward VII for ‘The Graphic’. The artist remained in London following the coronation, and in 1904 joined the staff of popular publication ‘The Sphere’ which would come to be home of his most famous illustrations, such as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Matania was elected member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1917.


Following the outbreak of the First World War, Matania served as an Official War Artist. The artist received great acclaim for his highly realistic and often graphic representations of trench warfare. The paintings produced during this period portray emotive, dramatic scenes of life during the War with sensitivity and great skill. Though Matania rose to prominence due to the success of such representations, following the War the artist began to paint historical reproductions almost exclusively, often focusing on mythological stories from Ancient Greece and Rome.


Throughout his career, Matania experienced great success in a variety of different mediums and approaches. From his initial illustrative acclaim, for which he received commission to cover every marriage, christening, coronation and funeral of the British Royal Family until the year of 1953, to his successful career as a painter, Matania was able to capture emotive, atmospheric scenes with unique skill. The artist continued to work late in to his life, until his death in 1963. His work is represented in a variety of collections, including that of the Imperial War Museum.