Luis de Morales


Around 1563
Wood, oil, 72 x 58 cm

The Spanish school of the 16th century is characterized by ecstatic drama. She was influenced by Italian painting. In his native Spain, Luis de Morales was nicknamed "The Divine" for the highest quality of painting and the drama of his paintings. Luis de Morales used the "sfumato" technique invented by Leonardo da Vinci. Flemish influences can be seen in his work. Around 1537, Morales studied with the Flemish mannerist Pieter de Campener, known in Spain as Pedro de Campanha. Subsequently, the artist leaves for Italy, where he absorbs the heritage of the Florentine and Venetian masters of the High Renaissance. The master was known for his extensive religious iconography and dramatic, intense interpretation of images of saints. He created many paintings depicting the Madonna, and the composition “Behold the Man” by Luis de Morales is one of the best interpretations of this iconography in Mannerism. From the 1560s his fame spread throughout Italy and Spain. Morales's legacy shows especially clearly the features of Counter-Reformation painting with its inherent religious exaltation and emotionality. He was the favorite artist of the Catholic saint and Spanish religious leader Juan de Ribera, who fought against Protestantism. Almost all his life, the master worked in the south of Spain in Extremadura, but his work spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Nowadays they are kept in the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

The painting shown was in the Villa Medici in Rome or belonged to the family, as evidenced by a wax seal with the Medici coat of arms, surmounted by the inscription "Roma". The first supposed owner is Ferdinand I de' Medici.