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Luis de Morales, The Virgin and Child

Key facts
Full title The Virgin and Child
Artist Luis de Morales
Artist dates active 1546; died 1586?
Date made probably 1565-70
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 28.5 × 19.6 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Gerard F. de Zoete, 1887
Inventory number NG1229
Location Gallery C
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin and Child
Luis de Morales

The Virgin gently cradles her son. Luis de Morales sensitively observes the instinctive gesture of the newborn baby tucking his hand through her red gown searching for milk. Mother and child lean into each other, their gazes tenderly interlocking.

Morales explores the sense of touch through both the figures‘ gestures and their fabrics, which range from a soft transparent veil to the heavy folds of the Virgin’s blue mantle. His close observation of detail extends to the figures’ individually painted eyelashes and hairs.

The Virgin and Child, sculpted by a soft light, emerge from a pitch-dark background – a smoky effect that recalls the figures in Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings. The small format suggests that the panel was intended for private devotion. Morales was active in the Spanish region of Extremadura and painted several of these small devotional paintings for the clergy and private clients there.

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