Morales produced numerous versions and replicas of a relatively limited range of subjects, all religious, mainly the Ecce Homo, the Holy Family and the Pietà. For this he became known as ‘El Divino’. According to his biographer, Palomino, he was trained in Seville, probably by the Flemish artist, Peeter de Kempener (1503–86), known as Pedro Campana; certainly, Morales’ hyper-realism recalls the Hispano-Flemish tradition as well as Spanish religious sculpture. He is unlikely to have actually visited Italy, but he was aware of Leonardo’s innovations as well as those of Raphael. In particular, Morales’s use of sfumato and his emotional directness recall Leonardesque artists such as Giampetrino and Luini. However, over a career of about forty years there was little evolution in his style.
Books on Luis de Morales
Letitia Ruiz Gómez, ed., The Divine Morales, exh. cat., Madrid, 2015.
Inajald Bäcksbacka, Luis de Morales, Helsinki, 1962.
Antonio Palomino de Castro y Lelasco, Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors, 1715-24, trans. Nina Alaya Mallory, Cambridge, 1987.