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The Adoration of the Magi
Morales, Luis de
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Morales, Luis de

Badajoz (Spain), 1510 - Alcántara? (Spain), 1586

See author's file

The Adoration of the Magi

1565 - 1570. Oil on panel.
Not on display

It is extremely likely that these two panels, -The Adoration of the Magi and The Adoration of the Shepherds-, similar in format, measurements and style, belonged to the predella of the same altarpiece, since both have the usual configuration of paintings destined for this type of placement, and the compositional design in each case displays similarities in the size and arrangement of the figures as well as the background scenery. Further indications that their provenance is probably one and the same include the fact that both works were acquired in Valencia, together with the findings of the technical studies carried out, which have shown that several of the wooden boards that make up the panels come from the same tree. It is not known today what their original destination was, or when they ceased to belong to the supposed altarpiece they were made for.

Throughout his career, Morales dedicated himself especially to the painting of altarpieces, since this was the type of work most heavily in demand from successful artists like him, and the most sought after by the artists themselves because the prestige and financial returns it brought them were considerable. Unfortunately, hardly any complete altarpieces by Morales have been preserved in situ -only those of Arroyo de la Luz and San Martín in Plasencia- although there are scattered panels like these, and a large amount of existing documentary evidence that proves he was working on altarpieces from about 1540 until shortly before his death. For these commissions, he organised a large studio where the work was shared by his sons and numerous assistants, who followed the master’s style when collaborating on the execution of the various subjects. The result was the creation of rather repetitive models and compositions based on the use of prints by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), Martin Schongauer (c. 1430-1491), Pieter Coecke van Aelst the Elder (1502-1550) and others, and a somewhat disparate degree of finish and technical execution that depended on the hand in charge of bringing each work to completion. This modus operandi can be appreciated in these panels, whose compositional context and types are those habitually used by Morales and his workshop, and both are very similar in quality, although there are certain appreciable details in the execution which differentiate them, probably owing to the intervention of different hands in the final phase of production.

The Adoration of the Magi responds to the patterns that were nearly always used by the painter for this type of subject matter, based on prints by Schongauer and Dürer, as seen in the examples at Badajoz Cathedral (c. 1553), Arroyo de la Luz (1560-63), San Martín in Plasencia (c. 1565-70), and Elvas Cathedral, now in the church of O Salvador in that city (c. 1575-76). The dates of the last of these altarpieces, together with recent technical studies included in this catalogue, allow the two panels that concern us here to be dated, since they present evident stylistic links with the Portuguese group, particularly in the minute and delicate brushwork and in the human types employed, as seen in the cases of the sweet and melancholy Virgin and the treatment of the Magi. On this occasion, Melchior stoops before the Christ Child to kiss his foot. This prostratio, a Byzantine form of prayer derived from the eastern rite, is an iconography that appeared in Italian and Spanish art in the thirteenth century, but is otherwise not very common in western art, where the genuflection is more frequent.

Both works are of high quality and very representative of Morales’s style. The scene of the Epiphany is regarded as undoubtedly an autograph work. In the case of the Nativity scene, Solís has suggested the possibility of an intervention by Hernando de Morales, the artist’s eldest son and one of his habitual collaborators (Text drawn from De Antonio, T. in: The Divine Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, pp. 69-72).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Morales, Luis de
The Adoration of the Magi
1565 - 1570
Height: 98.9 cm; Width: 166.6 cm
Acquired with funds of the Villaescusa Legacy, 1992.

Bibliography +

Museo Nacional del Prado, Un mecenas póstumo: el legado Villaescusa: adquisiciones 1992-1993, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1993, pp. 36-39.

Museo del Prado, Últimas adquisiciones: 1982-1995, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1995.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996.

Esplendores de Espanha de el Greco a Velazquez, Arte Viva, Río De Janeiro, 2000, pp. 174.

de Antonio, Trinidad, 'Luis de Morales. La Adoración de los pastores' En:, El Divino Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 69-72. n. 6.

Jover de Celis, M. Alba, L. Gayo, M. García-Máiquez, J, 'En el taller de Luis de Morales' En:, Luis de Morales, Diputación de Badajoz,, 2018, pp. 97-113 [99, 104, 106 f,23].

Luis de Morales, Diputación de Badajoz,, 2018, pp. n.6.

Ruiz, L, 'Luis de Morales , el pintor de lo Divino' En:, Diputación de Badajoz,, 2018, pp. 73-95 [91].

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2277.
Autor: Luis de Morales / 2277: Adoración de los reyes / Tipo de obra: pintura / Técnica/soporte: óleo sobre tabla / Medidas: 0,985 x 1,675 m / Nº de catalogo: P-07622 / Observaciones: Adquirido por el Museo con fondos del legado Villaescusa (acuerdo del Real Patronato de 9.I.1992) a D. Vicente y Dña. Josefina Giner Ríos en 59.000.000 pts. por contrato de adquisición de 31-I-1992. Ingresó en el museo el 2-XII-1991. Fondos de la herencia Villaescusa

Exhibitions +

Morales 2018: El Renacimiento de la Eurociudad
02.10.2018 - 14.11.2018

El Divino Morales
16.06.2016 - 25.09.2016

El Divino Morales
09.02.2016 - 16.05.2016

El Divino Morales
06.10.2015 - 10.01.2016

The Divine Morales
01.10.2015 - 10.01.2016

De El Greco a Velázquez. La cultura española durante la Unión Ibérica, 1580-1640
Río de Janeiro
12.07.2000 - 24.09.2000

Displayed objects +

Goblets (no glass): La copa está realizada con un caracol marino, montado con metales preciosos


Update date: 29-09-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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