Born in Uruguay in 1874, his family moved to America when he was a child. His father, Domingo Mora, was a well-known Spanish artist who gave his son his early artistic training. Mora also attended the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School where he studied drawing and painting under Frank Benson and Edmund Trabell. Later he studied under H. Siddens Mowbray at the Art Students League in New York City.
As did most promising artists of the time, Mora traveled to Europe to study the great paintings of the Old Masters. The influence of the Spanish Masters, especially Velazquez, is evident in Mora's choice of subject matter and style throughout his career. "Perhaps it is these very conflicting conditions in the life of Mr. Luis Mora that have evolved the unusual quality of his art, an art essentially Spanish in subject and feeling and wholly modern and American in expression (Craftsm, 17:402)."
Over two hundred of Mora's sketchbooks are conserved at the Archives of American Art. The particular sketchbooks from which the exhibited drawings are derived can be dated back to the early 20th century when Mora resided in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, New York City, and briefly in Carmel, California. Mora was also commissioned to paint the portraits of Andrew Carnegie and President Warren G. Harding, both of which hang in the White House.