The life and career of Luis de Morales, a famous Spanish artist, is little studied, full of mysteries and historical omissions. The works of Luis de Morales are full of personality and very distinctive. In Spanish art, the artist’s work stands apart - it is often associated with life in the province, and accordingly, with the lack of influence of fashionable artistic movements.
The first mention of the name of the master dates back to 1546. It is known for certain that Luis de Morales was born in one of the most backward and quiet areas of Spain - Extremadura, in the small town of Badajoz. The turbulent events associated with constant skirmishes on the Portuguese border and the sovereign domination of wealthy feudal families have long ceased to disturb the life of a provincial town.
In Badajoz, Morales lived in a big way, was known as a sociable, pleasant and respected person. He had his own workshop, a stone house, a small stable and a staff of servants. The artist actively collaborated with the city council and enjoyed the special patronage of the bishop. Orders did not run out and in the workshop Luis de Morales, over time, began to help sons - Cristobal and Jeronimo.
The master’s early works were the unique altar paintings with which Morales painted the city cathedral and nearby churches. The undoubted talent of the young artist was noticed by Bishop Don Juan de Ribera, an outstanding religious figure, a prominent representative of Spanish Catholicism and a philanthropist, who later became Archbishop and Viceroy of Valencia. In the 1560s, the bishop became the main customer of the painter. The work of Morales adorned the office and chapel of the episcopal palace. Moreover, the artist, not being a portrait painter, painted a well-known portrait of young Juan de Rieber, in which he managed to convey the bishop’s deep character and rich spiritual world.
However, the life of Luis de Morales was not limited to activities in Badajoz. Around 1561, the artist was invited to the court of Philip II, but the presented painting “The Way of the Cross of Christ” did not please the Spanish king, and Morales returned home. There is also an assumption that the painter visited Italy - a trip to Seville could be marked by acquaintance with the work of the Dutch and Italian representatives of mannerism. For several months, the master worked in the Portuguese cities of Elvas and Évora, but most of the time Luis de Morales spent painting the altars in the churches of small Spanish cities.
Calm, isolated life in a provincial town left its mark on all the work of the master. Despite the apparent archaism of Morales' paintings, each artist's work is unique, representing a characteristic mixture of religious exaltation, echoes of folk mystical culture, medieval piety, expression of the Dutch school of painting and the sophistication of Italian masters.
At the end of the life of an artist prone to waste and waste, there was a need. The small pension granted by Philip II helped save the master from starvation, but in recent years, Luis de Morales has not managed to improve his financial situation.