MOR (MORO), Antonio

Antonio Mor was a Dutch artist who earned his reputation as a portrait painter, primarily for the Habsburg monarchs in the Netherlands and Spain. Born in Utrecht, Mor served an apprenticeship under the painter Jan van Scorel,* though he soon established himself independently. By 1549 he was in Antwerp, in the employ of Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, one of Philip II* of Spain's most influential counsellors; Mor's portrait of Granvelle (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) from this time has been compared to Titian's* similar portrait of the same subject. Granvelle's patronage provided Mor an entree to the Habsburg court established in the Netherlands. In the fall of 1549 the Habsburgs convened in Brussels to officially acknowledge Philip as heir to the Netherlands; on this occasion, Mor was commissioned to execute several portraits of the monarchs. Mor's ability to render his subjects convincingly was admired by his royal pa­trons.
In 1550, at the command of Philip's aunt, Mary of Hungary, the current regent of the Netherlands, Mor was sent to Spain and Portugal to produce portraits of other members of the Habsburg family, among them Maximilian of Austria (Madrid, Prado, 1550) and his consort, Mary (Madrid, Prado, 1551). By 1554 Mor was recognized as the official court painter of Philip II, with whom he enjoyed a close friendship; during this year he went to England with Philip to paint what would become one of his most famous works, the portrait of Mary Tudor (Mary I*) (Madrid, Prado, 1554), Philip's second wife. For the next several years Mor traveled between the Netherlands and Spain, continuing to paint various members of the royal family; several works on religious subjects as well as Mor's Self-Portrait (Florence, Uffizi, 1558) also date from this period. Mor returned to the Netherlands around 1561; though he still painted for the Habsburgs, he turned to other subjects, including prosperous merchants and acquaintances from humanist circles. He was working on a painting for the cathedral of Antwerp when he died there in 1576.
Mor paid homage to the teaching of his master, Jan van Scorel, in a bust portrait (London, 1559). Scholars have also pointed to Titian's influence on Mor's work; but while Mor may have assimilated some of the techniques of these predecessors, his work evinces his own style, characteristically austere and formal but realistic.
M. J. Friedlander, Antonis Mor and His Contemporaries, 1975.
Jo Eldridge Carney

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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