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The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
Morales, Luis de
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Morales, Luis de

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

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The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

Ca. 1570. Oil on panel.
Room 052C

Morales here presents us with one of his most successful and heartwarming subjects, that of the Virgin and Child, although he also includes in this case the figure of the infant St John the Baptist, who looks out at the viewer with his blue eyes and, with a Harpocratic gesture, asks for silence so that Jesus’s sleep will not be disturbed. Illuminated by a strong light source, the scene stands out intensely against an almost black background. While the Child sleeps placidly with his right hand resting on a small basket of tiny fruits, perhaps wild strawberries, symbolising his future Passion, the Virgin covers him with a transparent veil to protect him from the bothersome flies, one of which has come to rest upon him. Morales had painted the insect in an earlier composition, on the sleeve of the blouse of the Virgin of the Hat (Madrid, Fondo Cultural Villar Mir) and may have used the detail to add greater realism to the scene while at the same time demonstrating his technical skill, although it should also be observed that this insect symbolises torment and so prefigures Christ’s Passion.

The model of the Virgin, with a slightly inclined oval face and curled hair, is the usual one in Morales’s repertory. This is not the first time he had shown her dressed in this manner, the salient feature being the graceful green hat with its broad, round brim and interlaced muslin ribbons, whose source of inspiration is somewhat complex.

A similar work, The Virgin of the Silence from the Colección Abelló, is also extant. Dated about 1550 and smaller in size, it shows the Child resting his hand on a small basket of cherries, a fruit also related with the Passion of Christ. The postures of the children differ from those of the Prado panel, but the silhouettes of the Virgins are almost identical, a fact we have been able to demonstrate by superimposing the two images and adjusting them to the same scale.

The paint on the Prado panel, made with finely ground pigments, is applied in thin layers with velature. Since its restoration in 2013, the work has been seen in all its beauty, and the gentle sfumato with which the figures are modelled can now be properly appreciated. Today it is possible to admire the genuine quality, impeccable technique and great delicacy which characterise Morales’s personal and unmistakable style (Text drawn from Sánchez-Lassa de los Santos, A. in: The Divine Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, p. 86).


Technical data

Inventory number
Morales, Luis de
The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist
Ca. 1570
Height: 73 cm; Width: 55 cm
Owned from at least 1958 by Carlos Jiménez Díaz; bequeathed to the Museo del Prado by his widow, María Concepción de Rábago y Fernández, in 1969.

Bibliography +

Carlos V y su ambiente. Exposición homenaje en el IV Centenario de su muerte, (1558-1958), Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Toledo, 1958, pp. 94.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 884.

Salas, X. de, Últimas adquisiciones del Museo del Prado, Goya: Revista de arte, 132, 1976, pp. 347.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado: adquisiciones de 1969 a 1977, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1978, pp. 6.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 435.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, III, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1996, pp. n. 1915.

Solis Rodriguez, Carmelo, Luis de Morales, Fundación Caja de Badajoz, Badajoz, 1999, pp. 97-98, fig. 68.

Museo Nacional del Prado, El Greco y la pintura española del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 68.

Mateo Gómez, Isabel, Flandes, Portugal y Toledo en las obras de Luis de Morales. Las virgenes gitanas o del sombrero, Archivo español de arte, 80, 2007, pp. 16.

Sánchez- Lassa, Ana, 'Luis de Morales. La Virgen con el Niño y San Juanito' En:, El Divino Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 86-87 n.11.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 1915.
Autor: Morales / 1915. Asunto: Sagrada familia. / Tabla: 0,70 x 0,57 / Nº del catálogo: 3147 / Legado vda. de Jiménez Díaz. agosto 1969

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

Location +

Room 052C (On Display)

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

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