Monday, September 24, 2012
Readers & crowds by Francis Luis Mora Uruguayan-born American painter, 1874-1940
F. (Francis) Luis Mora was born in Uruguay into an artistic family who immigrated to the United States when he was 6 years old in 1880. His father was Catalan architectural sculptor, Domingo Mora (1840–1911), & his mother was Laura Gaillard (1849–1935), a cultured woman who was born in Bordeaux, France. His brother Joseph Jacinto Mora (1876–1947) became an early California artist. Mora studied at the Boston Museum School with Edmund Tarbell & Frank Benson, where he won his first medal, & at the Art Students League with H. Siddons Mowbray. In 1896, when Mora was just 22 years old, William Merritt Chase asked him to be an instructor at his newly formed Chase School of Art in Manhattan.
In 1899, Chase recommended Mora for a mural commission outside of Boston in the stately Lynn, Mass., library — it was a great success & remains on view today. In 1901, Mora won The Hallgarten Prize at the National Academy of Design, & in 1906 he became its first Hispanic member. Naturalized an American citizen in 1903, Mora became intensely patriotic. During World War I, he was chosen to paint motivational posters for The Liberty Loan Board.
Mora followed the artistic philosophy, "the expression of beauty," which he wrote many times in his diaries. In 1910, he wrote, "Art is the whispering of the great voice of nature." He was a figurative painter who saw beauty in the human form & human character & his skills at portraying a sitter's inner qualities & personality led him to become a sought-after portraitist. But, as you can see, I am particularly attracted to his group portraits. To learn more about this artist visit the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian here.