F. Luis Mora
Francis Luis Mora was born July 27, 1874 in Montevideo, Uruguay, where his father Domingo was a prominent sculptor. The family left the country due to political unrest in 1877 for Catalonia, Spain, then to New York City in 1880. They settled in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, for several years before they moved to Allston, Massachusetts. When Mora was 15, he enrolled at the nearby School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he studied under Edmund Charles Tarbell and Frank Weston Benson. He spent 1892 studying at the Art Students League of New York under Henry Simmons Mowbray. In 1896, on a trip to Europe with his mother, Mora visited the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. Viewing the works of Spanish Old Masters, specifically Diego Velázquez, inspired Mora to incorporate their techniques into his own work. Back in New York, Mora was a popular teacher of illustration and life classes at several local institutions, including William Merritt Chase’s Chase School of Art (now Parsons School of Design), the art school at the Ethical Culture Society, and the Art Students League, where Georgia O’Keeffe was a student of his from 1907 to 1908. Mora was the first Hispanic person elected to the National Academy of Design in 1904, and became a full member in 1906. He produced illustrations that appeared in Harper’s Magazine and The New York Tribune (now the New York Times). He completed several commissioned murals, including one for Columbia College in 1909, works for the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion in 1911, and one of his final works “Our Christian Era” for the 1939 World’s Fair. Mora’s greatest success was as a portrait painter. He was selected to paint posthumous portraits of Andrew Carnegie in 1919 and President Warren G. Harding in 1923, which remains on permanent display in the White House. Mora’s portrait commissions and sales of his other oil paintings dwindled during the Great Depression. Francis Luis Mora died with little money left to his name in 1940 in New York City.