Sunday, March 21, 2010


Title: Pietà

Artist: Luis de Morales

Medium: Oil on panel

Size: 98 x 126 cm

Date: 1560

Location: Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.

The Pietà (Italian for pity) is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus. As discussed previously, it would have been highly unorthodox for women to assist in the burial of Jesus immediately after his death, but his mother, grief stricken, may have been overcome. Morales conveys the emotion of the scene like few others: mother and son, faces pressed close together, her eyes red and swollen from crying, while his are white and lifeless. He is limp as she cradles him.

Most of Morales's clientele preferred simplified compositions comprising a few figures, dramatically illuminated and posed against a dark or neutral background, the purpose of which was to arouse feelings of tragedy in the viewers and even move them to tears. This Pietà, which came from the Jesuit church in Córdoba, is a masterful example of this type of composition.

Luis de Morales (c. 1520, Badajoz - 1586, Badajoz) was a Spanish painter. He worked for most of his life in Badajoz, a town on the Portuguese border, and his style, formed away from the influence of the court or great religious and artistic centres such as Seville, is highly distinctive. His pictures are usually fairly small and he concentrated on devotional images. He painted numerous versions of the Virgin and Child, and touching visions inspired by the theme of the Pieta, which are among his most popular works. The piety of his work has earned him the nickname 'El Divino'.

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