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The Agony in the Garden
Morales, Luis de
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Morales, Luis de

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

See author's file

The Agony in the Garden

Ca. 1545. Oil on panel.
Not on display

Christ’s prayer on the Mount of Olives is the gospel episode that precedes his arrest and the beginning of his Passion and death on the cross. After the last supper with his disciples, Jesus withdraws with three of them, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, to the nearby garden of Gethsemane. According to St Luke’s Gospel, he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying: Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them: Why sleep ye? Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation (Luke, 22, 41-46).

Morales composed the subject in line with many of its usual representations, situating Jesus on the top of a small knoll, where he kneels in prayer and contemplates the angel bearing the chalice and the cross, while Peter, James and John sleep soundly in the foreground. The way in which the painter has arranged the apostles, employing complex postures and foreshortenings that display refined draughtsmanship and impressive inventiveness, is infrequent in his work. The same could be said of the landscape, without doubt the most complex of any we know by Morales’s hand, which links him with the tendency towards broad panoramic views of nature that had developed in Flemish painting since the first decades of the sixteenth century. With prolix minuteness, Luis de Morales has here shown the details of the vegetation, the trees and the groups of rocks that delimit the foreground space. The horizon line rises high in the background, reducing the view of the sky and allowing the inclusion of a broad river running between steep mountains, with a succession of monumental buildings and human groups engaged in various activities. Along a path near one of the banks, some barely sketched figures suggest the arrival at the garden of Gethsemane of the Roman soldiers guided by Judas, who are preparing to arrest Jesus. The latter is represented according to the physical model taken from Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485-1547) which Morales had repeated in some of his versions of Christ Carrying the Cross.

Until this panel was acquired by Fórum Filatélico in 2003, the only known Agony in the Garden from Morales’s studio was the one included on the main altarpiece of the parish church of Arroyo de la Luz (Cáceres), a group dated between 1560 and 1563. Larger in size and painted with considerable participation by assistants, there is no doubt that the Cáceres version is derivative of the one in the Prado. The figures of the four characters, simpler in concept, more schematic in line and less carefully coloured, have been compressed into the foreground, and the landscape has lost importance. Bäcksbacka and Pérez Sánchez related the Arroyo de la Luz composition with the painting on the same subject of about 1510 by Jan Gossaert (c. 1478-1532), but Morales doubtless had some other source of Flemish origin that would explain the composition of the Prado version. There is no doubt that this was executed before the one in Arroyo, a fact demonstrated by the technical analysis of the work (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. in: The Divine Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, pp. 112-114).


Technical data

Inventory number
Morales, Luis de
The Agony in the Garden
Ca. 1545
Height: 85 cm; Width: 65.5 cm
Private collection, Córdoba, until 2003; it was purchased for the Fórum Filatélico painting collection; acquired by the Spanish State and assigned to the Museo del Prado, 2013.

Bibliography +

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, 'Luis de Morales. La Oración en el Huerto' En:, El Divino Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 112-114 n.21.

Ruiz, L, 'Luis de Morales , el pintor de lo Divino' En:, Diputación de Badajoz,, 2018, pp. 73-95 [87].

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2870.

Exhibitions +

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

Displayed objects +



Update date: 11-01-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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