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The exhibition The Divine Morales

1 October 2015  - 10 January 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.