The rebirth of Christianity during the Renaissance was materialised through religious institutions, described in literature and immortalised by painting. For the 16th-century Spanish painter, Luis de Morales, painting was the medium with which he encapsulated the spiritual feelings during the Counter-Reformation’s religious revamp. He was known as ‘El Divino Morales’ (‘the divine Morales’) due to his devotional paintings that served as altarpieces and religious artworks for churches, monasteries and palaces. His work demonstrates realism with meticulous attention to detail, which itself reflects the religious enthusiasm during the period. This collection of 54 paintings, which includes Morales’s most famous piece, Virgin of the Bird (1546), are displayed at the MNAC and are united by their melancholic scenes. Taking inspiration from the work of Leonardo da Vinci, the paintings lack background scenery and focus on the detailed portraits of key religious figures. They also reveal an insight into 16th-century Renaissance religious iconography that is both emotionally charged and hauntingly revitalising.
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