An interesting new exhibition at the MNAC in Barcelona revealing the life and work of Spanish renaissance painter, Luis de Morales, opens this month.

The Italian Renaissance spread to Spain by the 15th century where it coincided with the unification of Spain, the conquest of the Moors at Granada and the subsequent expulsion of non-Christians and the inquisition.

Though the Spanish Renaissance is less widely known, it was a very important time culturally for Spain. Luis de Morales was a contemporary of the writer, Cervantes, who wrote Spain’s most famous masterpiece Don Quijote, and of the painter El Greco.

The work of Morales is best understood against the backdrop of the religious upheaval Spain was going through at this time, with the creation of a new unified Spanish Christian identity.

Known as ‘El Divino Morales’ (‘the divine Morales’) , his devotional paintings espouse the Christian faith, and were used as altarpieces and religious artworks for churches, monasteries and palaces. Morales’ work demonstrates realism and meticulous attention to detail, which itself reflects the religious enthusiasm of his day.

This collection of 54 paintings at the MNAC, which includes Morales’s most iconic work, the Virgin of the Bird (1546), is united by a certain melancholy to the scenes depicted.

Taking inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, these works by Morales forgo background scenery and instead focus on the detailed portraiture of Saints, the Virgin Mary and other key religious figures.

Running from June the 17th to September the 25th, this delightful exhibition is a unique opportunity to see Morales’ work at the MNAC in Barcelona.