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Annotated works

LUIS DE MORALES, known as «el Divino»

(Badajoz, c. 1520-1586)


Oil on walnut panel

72 x 50 cm

c. 1568

Renaissance and Mannierism (16th Century - Early 17th Century)

N.° inv. 82/2

Bequeathed by Ramón de la Sota y Aburto in 1980

LUIS DE MORALES, known as «el Divino» on Online collection

Luis de Morales was especially fond of the theme of the Pietà, in which he expressed the pathos of Christ's suffering and His Mother's grief as she holds the body of her dead son. On this occasion the artist focuses his attention on the composition, the central axis of which is the stake on which Christ was crucified. By presenting only the upper part of the Fifth Anguish, avoiding the whole of Christ's body in His Mother's lap, Morales stresses the emotional charge of the scene.

The strong contrasts of light and the surprising and mysterious black background award the panel greater expressive force, enhancing the silhouettes of the Blessed Virgin and her Son and drawing attention to details such as the blood on Christ's forehead, the fine hairs of the beard and the delicate sfumato of the Virgin's face.

Such attention to detail, as we see in the stake, betrays the Flemish component in Morales' painting, which he succeeded in combining with a precise draughtsmanship and a softness of light that has sometimes been associated with the oeuvre of Leonardo da Vinci. This point is difficult to prove given that Morales worked exclusively in Estremadura, Andalusia and Portugal immersed in the Mannerist style of the day, as revealed in this typical zigzag composition of the decade of 1560.  [B.N.P.]

Selected bibliography:

Ana María Galilea Antón. Catalogación y estudio de los fondos de Pintura Española del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao del siglo XIII al XVIII (de 1270 a 1700).[Tesis inédita]. Zaragoza : Universidad de Zaragoza, 1993, vol. I. pp. 520-526, vol. II. p. 280, il. 193.

Ana María Galilea Antón. "La colección de Pintura Española anterior a 1700 en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao" en Urtekaria 1994: asterlanak, albistak = Anuario 1994: estudios, crónicas. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 1995, pp. 7-42.

Carmelo Solís Rodríguez. Luis de Morales. Badajoz : Fundación Caja Badajoz, 1999, n.º 11.

Manuela Mena Marqués. "Luis de Morales el Divino : Bilboko Arte Eder Museoko Pietatea = Luis de Morales el Divino : La Piedad del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Luis de Morales, known as El Divino : The Pietà at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum" en B'09 : Buletina = Boletín = Bulletin, n.º 5. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2010, pp. 65-108.

Benito Navarrete Prieto. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 39, n.º 25, ad vocem.

Annotated works