After studying with the best teachers America offered, Frank Benson
and Edmund Tarbell at the Boston Museum School, and H. Siddons
Mowbray at the Art Students League, Mora looked for more
instruction, and found it with the works of the old masters in Madrid. Mora didn't merely admire the Spanish masters, he bonded with them.
He obtained permits at the Museo Del Prado, and painted copies of
their masterpieces, studying their techniques and secrets.
Spanish masters became Mora's artistic mentors, and the central focus of his
artistic expression. Mora's life-long adventure was to
transmit the elements of Spanish mastery into American modern art.
He bonded with the works of Goya, El Greco and Fortuny I. It was Velazquez's
touched Mora's artistic heart. He wrote, when entering the
Velazquez gallery at The Prado Museum: "I am wild
Like Velazquez, Mora was always interested in the character of the
individual. He respected and had deep compassion for his subjects . Also like Velazquez, Mora had an egalitarian
approach to his subjects. Whether painting a U.S. President or
gypsies, all of Mora's subjects had dignity and inner beauty.
There were many superb artists
who paid homage to the Spanish masters, notably Edouard Manet and
James McNeill Whistler, but Spanish
painting was Mora's soul and spirit. The mastery
they taught him transcended a stylized approach to art. He used
various styles as necessary, to make his paintings "stand out
in a world of paintings."
Mora had little interest in artists who used one style or
subject over and over again. Kenneth Clark wrote of Velazquez:
"his aim was simply to tell the whole truth about a complete visual
impression." The same can be said of Mora. An effortless
figural draftsman, Mora could concentrate on integrating a
composition with the particular disposition of his subject.
To appreciate Mora' versatility, something should be said
about American Impressionism, the style he often used. Mora could have easily
painted entirely in American Impressionist style, indeed, his
American mentor was William Merritt Chase, and Edward Potthast was his
close friend. Mora's many Impressionist works are magnificent by any
comparison. But he was faithful to his belief that the subject
dictated the style. Some of his works are painterly and fluid, while
others have short strokes applied with seeming abandon. He often
used early 20th Century Realism. One thing
can be said about all of his paintings: His subjects all speak
strongly about their emotions and who they were within
their slice of society.
order to understand the essence of Mora's art, we must mention
his personality. He was social, and happy to lead the life of
an artist. He had an optimistic outlook, and his students liked him.
He deeply loved his wife, and had close family ties. He admired
diversity among people of various cultures, and had friends of many
nationalities. He was not a starving artist; he lived well, and he
could well afford to pursue his artistic adventure and his own
artistic philosophy. His friends say he was often hilarious, his family says he
always lifted their
His art certainly lifts
the spirit. Many of his scenes have the atmosphere of laughter and
warm breezes. The most
bedraggled of Mora's subjects have self-respect and pride.
When his subjects are socially isolated, they are in the background
of a painting, as they also were in the background of life's order.
Even in his earliest childhood battle scenes, where he showed death
and blood, there was always someone to minister to the wounded.
His later World War I paintings were often optimistic portrayals of
was fiercely proud to be an Hispanic. He retained his
Spanish accent although he entered the United States when he was
just four years old, young enough to lose it completely. He wrote
and spoke in Catalan and Spanish, was conversant in French, and fluent
in written and spoken English. In one particularly telling
self-portrait, he is in his New York City studio, dressed as a 17th
Century Spaniard, drawing a nude, with his own copy of
Velazquez's painting on the wall. This is the essence of F.
Luis Mora. He is flanked by
an armored Japanese warrior and a classical Roman figure, saying
that he was also a student of multicultural art history, elements of
which he added to his signature style.