Luis de Morales, Pietà, 1550–70

Luis de Morales, Pietà, 1550–70

Luis de Morales

(1510 or 1511 - 1586)



Oil on panel

16 1/4 x 11 3/4 in. (41.3 x 29.8 cm)

Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Meadows Museum Acquisition Fund, MM.95.01

Hear a reading of the object label (1:06 minutes)

  • Listen to the audio

Object Label

Luis de Morales was known as El Divino (“the divine one”) for the intensely personal spirituality of his religious images. Based in Extremadura and Portugal, he worked for several prominent ecclesiastical patrons but was especially renowned for small devotional panels such as this one. Drawing upon Flemish and Italian models, Morales developed an individualistic style in which exquisite draftsmanship, polished execution, and sublime emotional expression reflect the fervent mysticism of Counter-Reformation Spain.

This painting, among the finest of Morales’s numerous versions of the Pietà, depicts the Virgin Mary embracing her dead son. Delicate modeling, a glossy surface, and nearly invisible brushwork give the figures a smooth tactility enhanced by the Virgin’s crystalline tears and the fine, calligraphically rendered hair and eyelashes. This panel is close in style and composition to Morales’s masterpiece, a full-length Pietà in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. This association places it within the richest and most productive period of the artist’s career.