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

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

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The Adoration of the Shepherds

1565 - 1570. Oil on panel.
Not on display

It is extremely likely that these two panels, -The Adoration of the Shepherds and The Adoration of the Magi-, 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 Shepherds, like its partner, presents an arrangement of the figures that is suited to the compositional framework. The Holy Family is situated on the right, possibly the area that would have been closest to the tabernacle. The Virgin holds the sleeping Christ Child, whose arms are crossed on his chest in an attitude that is not rare in Morales’s production, but not habitual either. He used the same posture for the Christ Child in the Holy Family of the Marchioness of Santa Cruz de Rivadulla, formerly in the collection of the Count of Albiz. The image of St Joseph is one of his most characteristic masculine models, appearing with minor variations from the apostle next to Jesus in the Catania Last Supper until his final works. The left side is occupied by two shepherds with their traditional iconography of the lamb, symbolising the sacrifice of the son of God, and the crook, an allusion to Christ as the shepherd of souls. These two figures are rather large for the scene as a whole, and show a tendency towards greater corporal expression in their gesticulating hands and their artificial and unstable posture, reminiscent of the Mannerist style, perhaps in an attempt on the artist’s part to emphasise their emotional values.

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

The Adoration of the Magi
Oil on panel, 1565 - 1570
Morales, Luis de
Inventory number
Morales, Luis de
The Adoration of the Shepherds
1565 - 1570
Height: 100 cm; Width: 167.1 cm; Base/bottom: 2 cm
Acquired with funds of the Villaescusa Legacy, as a non-recourse debt, in 1994.

Bibliography +

Noticias. Adquisiciones, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XVI, 1995, pp. 90.

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

Solis Rodriguez, Carmelo, Luis de Morales, Fundación Caja de Badajoz, Badajoz, 1999, pp. 96, fig. 67; 210-11.

Arranz Otero, J. L.; Gutiérrez Pastor, I., En: El mundo de Carlos V: de la España medieval al siglo de Oro, Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoración de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V, Madrid, 2000, pp. 267-68, n. 5.

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. 5.

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 [99,111 f.21, 27].

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. 2379.
Autor: Morales, Luis de / 2379. Título: La Adoración de los pastores / Tipo de obra: pintura / Técnica/soporte: óleo sobre tabla / Medidas: 1,00 x 1,675 m / Nº de catálogo: P-07690 / Observaciones: Adquirido por el Estado como pago de deuda tributaria de Fervisa, ejercicio 1994, por 62 millones ptas y adscrito al Museo del Prado a propuesta / de la Com. de Valoración de la Jta. de Calificación. Acuerdo Real Patronato de 26-VI-1995. / Se depositó en el Museo el 13-V-1994

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

Carlos V entre dos mundos culturales. De las tres culturas de la España medieval al Siglo de Oro
México D.F.
03.11.2000 - 28.02.2001

Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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