Property from a Spanish Private Collection
LUIS DE MORALES
Badajoz (?) circa 1520 - 1586 (?) Badajoz
the reverse of the frame inscribed: De Philippe Diez Calderon ano de 1724/ Franco Benito los doro...
oil on panel, in a Spanish carved and gilt wood frame
unframed: 80.8 x 57.2 cm.; 31¾ x 22½ in.
framed: 130 x 98 cm.; 51¼ x 38⅝ in.
Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
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The following condition report is provided by Henry Gentle who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's:
Luis de Morales
Oil on panel, in an ornate period gilt frame with repairs
The soft wood panel has been thinned and cradled. The panel is stable and the paint layer is well preserved .
Under u-v light a scattering of minor restored paint loss can be detected, possible previous worm damage. This is chiefly concentrated through the Madonna's and Christ's flesh tones, the Madonna's right sleeve and where her head meets the Cross. Very minor loss is also present in the background.
Minor strengthening to Christ's hair and beard can be detected , however, this is unsympathetic, excessive and not well colour matched.
The Madonna's drapery is in a good original state and many tonal and chromatic subtleties are well preserved.
Fine and delicate details , especially to areas such as the cross, the folds of the drapery and the flesh tones are in excellent preserved condition.
There is a residue of old varnish, particularly to the background; its removal would enhance the tonality.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Acquired in Badajoz, Extremadura, by Ramón Cepeda Montero, circa 1870;
Thence by descent.
This exceptional, unpublished panel of the Pietà is a notable addition to the œuvre of perhaps the greatest Spanish devotional painter of the sixteenth century, Luis de Morales. The artist fulfilled the need amongst the fervently religious at that time for highly spiritual devotional works and such was his success that his legacy was ensured through his posthumous labelling with the epithet 'El Divino'. The origins of his style are complex and indeed difficult to establish, but the clarity of form and harmonious interplay of his compositions in the manner of Raphael or Leonardo da Vinci would indicate the influence of italianising Flemish painters working in Spain, of which there were many. Indeed, if Palomino is to be believed, Morales received his initial training in the Seville workshop of the Fleming Pieter de Kempeneer (known in Spain as Pedro de Campaña).
Morales painted exclusively religious subjects and the majority of his œuvre is comprised of depictions of the Virgin and Child, the Pietà, and Christ as the Man of Sorrows, Christ at the Column or Christ carrying the Cross. Unusually for an artist who painted numerous versions of certain subjects, including other versions of the Pietà, the present composition is unique in his work, it being the only fully autograph version of this particular design in which a beautifully elongated Virgin is seen delicately cradling the recently crucified Christ, His head resting on her left arm and her right hand delicately grasping His right shoulder. In his Arte de la pintura, the artist and writer Francesco Pacheco (1564–1644) wrote that Morales’ depictions of this subject were so poignant that they ‘could move stones to devotion’. The particularly fine preservation of this panel adds to its visual impact, the porcelain-like skin tones and starkly-lit cross set off beautifully by the jet-black background.
NOTE ON PROVENANCE
The painting was acquired by an antecedent of the present owner in the late nineteenth century in Badajoz, Morales' hometown. It seems quite possible therefore that the painting remained in the same town for the first three hundred years of its life, and beyond, only moving to the city of Madrid relatively recently. This evidently undisturbed existence may explain the painting's excellent state of preservation.