The Woman behind the Artist
A love story began
Henriette was beautiful, diaphanous, graceful and charming, with a delicate and harmonious figure. Her beautiful face, a slightly elongated oval, was framed by soft copper-blond hair. Her eyes were luminous and had an intense look. Mariano was soon won over. Thus a deep love story and a long creative adventure began.
Moving to Venice
In 1907, in the huge attic of Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei on Campo San Beneto, their adventure in the textile sector could begin. Mariano declared: “Ma Femme et moi, nous avons fondé, au Palazzo Orfei un atelier d’impression suivant une méthode entièrement nouvelle … Cette industrie a commencé par des châles en soie et s’est développée avec des robes”.
Henriette was the muse who inspired him, his faithful companion who was always by his side and who shared his aesthetic positions. She supported and comforted him, was a friend to whom he could confide his doubts and uncertainties, and the person who protected and safeguarded the inner spaces in which the artist found his creative force.
In the house and workshop of Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei, Henriette worked alongside her husband in the creation of fine printed fabrics and silk lampshades, coordinating the work of the craftsmen they employed.
It was she who maintained the delicate relations with an increasingly numerous and international clientele.
After the death of her husband (1949) and the sale of the Società Anonima Fortuny to her friend, Elsie McNeill, Henriette dedicated the rest of her life to fulfilling Mariano’s testamentary wishes – donating numerous works to Italian and Spanish museums – and to creating an inventory of the works of art in the palazzo, which upon her death was bequeathed to the city of Venice.
Museo Fortuny Venezia Palazzo Orfei