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The Divine Morales

Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid 10/1/2015 - 1/10/2016

Luis de Morales was born in 1510 or 1511 and probably died in 1586, possibly in Alcántara (Cáceres), where he is known to have lived in 1585. It is not known where he was born, but he lived and painted in Extremadura. For more than fifty years he was the most prolific and important painter of that vast region, where he produced many altarpieces and religious paintings, broadening his clientele to Portugal, especially the towns of Évora and Elvas near Badajoz. He established himself in Badajoz in 1539, after working in Plasencia and the surrounding area, where the combination of artists and influences from Flanders and Castile explains an essential part of Luis de Morales’s painting. Knowledge of works by other artists, especially Alonso Berruguete and Sebastiano del Piombo, helped shape the style of this painter, who soon earned fame for his small religious panels. With a keen commercial sense, Morales adapted a painstakingly executed artistic and devotional product, based on a combination Flemish traditions of the late 1400s–early 1500s and Italianate elements and models, to suit his clientele of the period. Furthermore, he subtly conveyed the spiritual atmosphere of the period in these religious images. Simply composed and very familiar to believers, they were visually highly effective with an unmistakeable emotional charge.

This exhibition carefully surveys the work of the ‘Divine’ Morales, who was so called because, as painter and treatise writer Antonio Palomino wrote in the eighteenth century: He was named the Divine, because all he painted was sacred things, and because he made heads of Christ with such exquisiteness and subtlety in the hair, that it causes those interested in art want to blow on it so that it moves, because it appears as subtle as that which is real.

Curator:
Leticia Ruiz, head of the Department of Spanish Renaissance Painting at the Museo del Prado

Access

Room C. Jerónimos Building

Sponsored by:
Fundación BBVA
Organized by:
Museo Nacional del Prado
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao
Museu Nacional D'art de Catalunya

Multimedia

Exhibition

Lasting icons

Lasting icons
Nursing Virgin
Luis de Morales
Oil on chestnut panel, 84 x 64 cm, c. 1565
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

This section introduces visitors to the painter’s best-known iconographic creations – fairly small works with bust- or half-length figures silhouetted against black backgrounds by contrasting lighting to bring them closer to the spectator. Designed for oratories and private chapels, these compositions attest to Luis de Morales’s complex artistic affiliations – his connection with Italian painting and with a few Flemish and Northern European artists.

Del dulce pintar. Around the Virgin and Child

Del dulce pintar. Around the Virgin and Child
The Birth of the Virgin
Luis de Morales
Oil on walnut panel, 69.2 x 93.2 cm, c. 1562-67
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

Morales reworked a few well-established iconographies of European Christian art. Characterised, like his entire output, by a religiosity centred on the Passion aspects of Christ’s childhood, they were extremely successful with the clientele of the period. His small panel paintings of devotional images featuring the ‘Virgin and Child’ enjoyed widespread popularity. His main creations revolved around the Gypsy Virgin (also known as the pilgrim Virgin or Virgin with the hat), in which Mary wears a striking wide-brimmed hat, and the so-called Virgin with the spindle, a type of depiction in which the Child holds this instrument for winding yarn in imitation of the cross. A careful selection of variations on these two themes attests to Morales’s ability to achieve works that are delicately constructed but with an effective emotional charge.

Painting for very close up. Images of the Passion and Redemption

Painting for very close up. Images of the Passion and Redemption
The Virgin and Child with a Spindle
Luis de Morales
Oil on chestnut panel, 64.5 x 45 cm, 1566
Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

The Passion of Christ became a key motif for reflecting on and emulating in the society of the period. Morales’s panel paintings of the suffering Christ, executed in small format with intense backgrounds against which the images of Christ enduring the redeeming Passion (preferably bust- or half-length figures) are silhouetted with sculptural force, were highly convincing for that mid-sixteenth-century society, as proven by the many known versions of the master’s originals.

This group of works is centred around the full-length Ecce Homo in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon and a sculpture by Alonso de Berruguete in the Museo Nacional de Escultura in Valladolid, as an iconographic reference that also suggests Luis de Morales’s undeniable aesthetic relationship with sculpture.

Complex stories: altarpieces

Complex stories: altarpieces
Lamentation over the Dead Christ
Luis de Morales
Oil on oak panel, 167.5 x 125 cm, c. 1566
Salamanca, Museo de Salamanca. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte

Like most sixteenth-century Spanish painters, Luis de Morales produced a large number of altarpieces for which he was assisted in particular by his workshop. Archival documents show that Morales’s output of ensembles of this kind, which were so characteristic of the art of his time, was abundant; however, the conflicts with Portugal in the seventeenth century, the Peninsular War and the Civil War led to the disappearance of most of these altarpieces. Works of significant quality have been recovered for the exhibition to help illustrate this aspect of Morales’s output and compete the survey of his complex career.

In keeping with the theme, this section also features the only two drawings attributed to the artist: Lamentation over the Dead Christo and Noli me tangere, both from the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon.

Saint Juan de Ribera and Counter-Reformation spirituality

Saint Juan de Ribera and Counter-Reformation spirituality
Ecce Homo
Luis de Morales
Oil on oak panel, 182 x 94 cm, c. 1565
Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

Of the group of prelates assigned to Badajoz, the most prominent was undoubtedly Saint Juan de Ribera. His family background and intellectual grounding and the spiritual environment of his tenure in Extremadura (1562–69) make Ribera an essential reference in the life and paintings of Luis de Morales, who came to be considered court painter to the prelate.

The fundamental work in this last section is the altarpiece with the Judgement of the Soul of Saint Juan de Ribera, from the Real Colegio Seminario de Corpus Christi in Valencia – Museo del Patriarca.

Artworks

1

The Holy Family

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 91 x 67 cm

c. 1554-60

New York, The Hispanic Society of America

5

Christ Carrying the Cross

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 82 x 64 cm

c. 1565

Osuna (Seville), Colegiata de Osuna

6

Pietà

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 90 x 66 cm

c. 1563

Polán (Toledo), Parroquia de San Pedro y San Pablo

7

La Piedad

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 72 x 50 cm

c. 1568

Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

9

The Visitation

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 67.5 x 49.7 cm

c. 1562-67

Eichenzell, Kulturstiftung des Hauses Hessen, Museum Schloss Fasanerie

10

The Presentation in the Temple

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 66 x 49.5 cm

c. 1562-67

Eichenzell, Kulturstiftung des Hauses Hessen, Museum Schloss Fasanerie

12

The Virgin and Child with the Little Bird

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel transferred to canvas, 210 x 178 cm

1546

Parroquia San Agustín de Madrid

13

The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 167 x 122 cm

c. 1545-55

Salamanca, S.I.B. Catedral de Salamanca

14

The Virgin and Child or The Virgin in Gipsy Dress

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 70.5 x 50 cm

c. 1567-70

Colección Arango

15

The Virgin with the Child Writing

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 54.7 x 38.8 cm

Mexico City, Museo Nacional de San Carlos, INBA-CONACULTA

17

Virgin of the Hat or Virgin in Gipsy Dress with the Christ Child

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 57 x 41 cm

c. 1567

Madrid, Fondo Cultural Villar Mir

18

Virgin in Gipsy Dress and Christ Child with Yarnwinder

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 39 x 28.5 cm

1567-68

Private collection

20

Christ, Man of Sorrows

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 60.5 x 44 cm

1566

Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

21

Christ, Man of Sorrows

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 64 x 44 cm

c. 1560

Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund

23

The Repentant St Peter before Christ at the Column

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 73 x 55 cm

c. 1567

Madrid, Catedral de la Almudena

24

Ecce Homo

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 182 x 94 cm

c. 1565

Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

25

Ecce Homo

Alonso Berruguete

Polychrome wood, Figure: 146 x 49 x 37 cm. Base: 14 x 58 x 48 cm

c. 1525

Valladolid, Museo Nacional de Escultura

26

Christ Presented to the People

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 54 x 96 cm

c. 1570

Madrid, Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

27

Ecce Homo

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 32.5 x 25 cm

c. 1560-70

Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister

28

Ecce Homo

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 23.5 x 15.3 cm

c. 1565

Colección Arango

29

St Jerome in Penitence

Luis de Morales

Oil on chestnut panel, 70.7 x 50.5 cm

1555-65

Private collection, Herederos de Don Alonso Álvarez de Toledo y Mencos, Marqués de Miraflores

30

St Stephen

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 69 x 50 cm

c. 1555-60

Oviedo, Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias

32

St Francis of Assisi

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 76 x 33 cm

c. 1570

Colección Masaveu

33

St Peter of Verona

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 78 x 35 cm

c. 1570

Colección Masaveu

34

Pietà

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 126 x 98 cm

c. 1560

Madrid, Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

35

Pietà

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 114.4 x 84.8 cm

1553-54

Badajoz, Museo Catedralicio

36

The Stigmatisation of St Francis

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 112.8 x 81.9 cm

1553-54

Badajoz, Museo Catedralicio

41

The Last Supper

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 120 x 93.5 cm

c. 1560-70

Catania, Museo Civico di Castello Ursino

42

Lamentation over the Dead Christ

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 167.5 x 125 cm

c. 1566

Salamanca, Museo de Salamanca. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte

43

The Crucifixion

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 166.5 x 138 cm

c. 1566

Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Donación Plácido Arango Arias

45

Lamentation for the Death of Christ

Luis de Morales

Pen, brown ink and light brown ink wash on laid paper prepared with reddish sanguine wash, 149 x 173 mm

Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

46

Noli me tangere

Luis de Morales

Pen and wash, brown ink, with touches of partially oxidised white lead on laid paper prepared with reddish sanguine wash (adhered to a second support), 187 x 230 mm

Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga

47

Triptych of Bishop Juan de Ribera

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 80 x 104 cm (open)

c. 1566

Cádiz, Museo de Cádiz

50

Christ Carrying the Cross

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 81 x 62 cm

c. 1567

Valencia, Real Colegio Seminario de Corpus Christi – Museo del Patriarca

51

Crucifixion with Donor

Luis de Morales

Oil on panel, 235.5 x 156.5 cm

c. 1565-75

Valencia, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos. Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia

52

Triptych with the Judgement of the Soul of Juan de Ribera

Luis de Morales

Oil on oak panel, 131 x 49 cm

c. 1568

Valencia, Real Colegio Seminario de Corpus Christi – Museo del Patriarca

54

The Virgin in Gipsy Dress

Luis de Morales

Oil on walnut panel, 33.5 x 24.5 cm

1567-68

Madrid, Colección LL-A

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