La Pietá

7:00 AM

Luis de Morales, La Pietá, 1565

 BY: BHux

Morales’s style of art attracted commissioners who wanted to strike grief into people's hearts, and even bring them to tears. Morales’s dramatic compositions, with few figures and dark backgrounds, aim to evoke anguish over the tragedies Christ experiences during his life. Mary cradles her lifeless son helplessly in her arms. In her face, Morales beautifully details the the pain a mother experiences from losing a child. A single, nearly translucent tear can be seen slowly dripping down her cheek. Sharp, harsh shadows not only add depth and dimension to the subjects, but highlights the intensity and seriousness in the scene. The darkness of the shadows adds weight to the characters; the viewer sees the severity of the emotional burden that weighs Mary down now that her son has died. The dark background highlights the characters in the stark light of the foreground and emphasizes their roles as the subjects of this work. In the background, miscellaneous rubble litters the ground as Mary kneels in front of the cross used in her son’s crucifixion. Even the grass she kneels on looks lifeless and defeated. Morales’s technique creates drama and intensity that makes the viewer feel they are suffering in the same dark, defeated world void of hope as Mary. 
The title, La Pietá, refers to the subject of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Jesus. Pietás began in Germany in the 14th century and quickly spread to other parts of Europe. Typically, artists use sculpture for their Pietás, but Morales chose to paint the scene. Morales was known as “El Divino,” as most of his work was religious and included a range of Madonna and Childs, Passions, and other Pietás. As was common at the time, Morales chooses to have Mary’s hands in a fairly upright position with Christ’s body slumped on the floor. Morales's decision to exclusively include Mary and Christ as subjects as the painting defines this piece as a Pieta. If he had included any other New Testament figures, it would be considered a Lamentation. Painters took artistic liberties when painting Pietás because of the broad requirements needed. In Morales’s La Pietá, he chooses to beautifully but morbidly depict Mary’s anguish over her son’s death with his dramatic, surreal style of art.

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