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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

See author's file

The Virgin nursing the Child

1560 - 1565. Oil on panel.
Not on display

These works (P7948 and P944) 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.

As reported in 1983 by Díaz Padrón and Padrón Mérida, Prado panel P7948 was exhibited for sale in Paris in 1890, at which time it was the property of the Garriga family. Mention had been made of this by Ingjald Bäcksbacka in 1962, but without a reproduction of the work. Díaz Padrón and Padrón Mérida published a reproduction and gave its location as Jaén, in the collection of Benito Garriga. It passed at an uncertain date into a private collection, and was acquired in 2006 for the Museo del Prado (Text drawn from Ruiz, L.: The Divine Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2015, pp. 93-94).


Technical data

Inventory number
Morales, Luis de
The Virgin nursing the Child
1560 - 1565
Height: 38 cm; Width: 28 cm
Before 1890 in the collection of the Garriga family, where it remained in 1983; acquired in 2006 by the Spanish State and assigned to the Museo del Prado.

Bibliography +

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio, Luis de Morales, C.S.I.C. Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1961.

Backsbacka, Ingjald, Luis de Morales, Helsingfors, Helsinki, 1962, pp. 204, n. 24.

Díaz Padrón, M.; Padrón Mérida, A., Miscelánea de pintura española del s. XVI, Archivo español de arte, LVI, 1983, pp. 193-219.

Rodríguez G. de Ceballos, A., El mundo espiritual del pintor Luis de Morales en el IV centenario de su muerte, Goya. Revista de arte, 196, 1987, pp. 194-203.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Memoria de Actividades 2006, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 2007, pp. 66.

España. Ministerio de Cultura, Adquisiciones de bienes culturales 2007, Ministerio de Cultura, 2009, pp. 167.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 127.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 15 n.42.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 81.

Ruiz. Leticia, 'Luis de Morales. La Virgen de la leche' En:, El Divino Morales, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 93-95 n.14.

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 [100].

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2755.

Inscriptions +

12326 / 3/
Inscribed with chalk. Back

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

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

Update date: 24-02-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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