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The Virgin Nursing the Child
Morales, Luis de
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Morales, Luis de

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

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The Virgin Nursing the Child

Ca. 1565. Oil on panel Not on display

These works (P944 and P7948) embody a more decorous variation of the breastfeeding Madonna, a reference to the succour afforded by the Virgin to all believers. Morales designed a composition which avoids both the representation of Mary’s nude breast and explicit lactation. With both hands, Mary holds a Child who seeks maternal consolation, lifting the veil with one hand and touching the modestly covered breast with the other. The compositional sources that have been suggested for this are linked above all with the arrangement of the Child, engaged with his back to the viewer in an intimate gestural dialogue with Mary, which may have a model in the print by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) of The Holy Family with the Dragonfly, of about 1495. A relationship has also been pointed out with the alabaster bas-relief of the Madonna and Child at Badajoz Cathedral, attributed to Desiderio da Settignano (c. 1428-1464).

The numerous versions of Morales’s composition that have come down to us show considerable popularity for this image, a delicate object destined for private devotion and linked with the Marian icons of the Byzantine tradition. The smallest version, kept in London, is also on oak and shows a very similar pictorial treatment, with care taken over the minute details of the hair, the transparencies of the veil and the soft transitions of light and shadow. The London panel, like the version from the former Bosch collection, shows the Virgin’s left hand uncovered, not hidden behind any part of the cloth covering the Child, and with the fingers extended upwards. In these two Prado panels, as in nearly all the known versions, the fingers are bent slightly downwards, and part of the Child’s cloth falls over her hand.

Gaya Nuño, who did not know the picture previously in the Colección Garriga, drew special attention to the Prado version from the Royal Collection, regarding it as the head of the series and the most fortunate in its simplicity. It is a carefully drawn work, with very subtle details in the depiction of every element in the picture. The Child’s cloth is drawn in greater complexity, with a characteristic shading in beautifully applied blue tones. The tunic, in a yellowish-orange hue, is paler than in the other known versions. Fernando Marías described it as a charming and moving painting that seeks the viewer’s empathy, but incorporated within it is a premonitory thought of the causes and destiny of Christ’s humanisation [...]. It is perhaps one of the finest examples in Morales’s art of depiction of detail and the expression of a sentimental spirit (Text drawn from Ruiz, L.: The Divine Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, pp. 93-94).

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Related artworks

The Virgin and Child
Oil on panel, Ca. 1565
Inventory number
P000944
Author
Morales, Luis de
Title
The Virgin Nursing the Child
Date
Ca. 1565
Technique
Oil
Support
Panel
Dimension
Height: 57 cm.; Width: 40 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, cabinet, 1814-1818, no. 175).

Bibliography +

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, s.n., Madrid, 1834, pp. 11.

Paris, Pierre, La peinture espagnole depuis les origines jusqu'au debut, Les Éditions G. Van Oest, París, 1928, pp. 22/ lám.23.

Gué Trapier, E. du, Morales y las influencias leonardescas en España, Revista de Estudios Extremeños, 1953, pp. 653-686.

Ars hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico, Plus Ultra, Madrid, 1954, pp. 239.

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio, Luis de Morales, C.S.I.C.Inst.Diego Velazquez, Madrid, 1961, pp. 20,42 / lám.6.

Backsbacka, Ingjald, Luis de Morales, Helsingfords, Helsinki, 1962, pp. 174.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Camón Aznar, José, Pintura Española de los Siglos XVI al XIX, Direccion General de Bellas Artes, Madrid, 1973, pp. 70-71.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Panorama de la pintura española desde los Reyes Católicos a, Servicio de Publicaciones del Instituto de Coopera, Madrid, 1980, pp. 20.

Carroggio, Fernando, Historia del arte, CarroggioS.A., Barcelona, 1983, pp. 312.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 433.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Solis Rodriguez, Carmelo, Luis de Morales, Fundacion Caja de Badajoz, Badajoz, 1999, pp. 195,196.

Kalugina, Elena O., Luis de Morales y Leonardo: Nuevas fuentes iconográficas, Archivo Español de Arte, 308, 2004, pp. 416 / 1.

Mateo Gómez, Isabel, Flandes, Portugal y Toledo en las obras de Luis de Morales. Las virgenes gitanas o del sombrero, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 80, 2007, pp. 11.

Ruiz. Leticia, 'Luis de Morales. La Virgen de la leche' En:, El Divino Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 93-95 n.15.

Rojo Mexicano: la grana cochinilla en el arte., Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes,, 2017, pp. 379 n.39.

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 [105].

Luis de Morales, Diputación de Badajoz,, 2018, pp. n.4.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 175.
Gabinete [...] {21275} 175 / vara alto dos tercias ancho La Virgen con el Niño que tiene la mano metida en el pecho de su madre

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 157.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 157.
Morales / 157. La Virgen y el Niño Dios. / Este tiene una mano en el pecho de su santa madre, y la cabeza sostenida en la mano derecha de esta. (tabla). / Alto 2 pies, 4 lin; ancho 1 pie, 5 pulg, 3 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 850.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 944.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 944.

Exhibitions +

Morales 2018: El Renacimiento de la Eurociudad
Badajoz
02.10.2018 - 14.11.2018

Rojo mexicano: la grana cochinilla y su uso en los grandes maestros
México D.F.
07.11.2017 - 10.02.2018

El Divino Morales
Barcelona
16.06.2016 - 25.09.2016

El Divino Morales
Bilbao
09.02.2016 - 16.05.2016

Update date: 03-05-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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