El Greco

AKA Domenikos Theotokopoulos

Life Overview

El Greco, originially named Domenikos Theotokopoulos, was born in 1541 in Crete, Grece. Because Crete was in Venetian possession, Greco decided to go to Venice to study art, possibly as early as 1560. It was there that he earned his nickname "II Greco" (the Greek) because of his difficult name. He was a pupil of Titian, and it showed by his paintings of rich color during that time. In 1576, he left for Italy, and although the reason for his departure is unknown, a probable cause is that he wanted to paint for the altars of a church in Toledo. He remained settled in Toledo for the remainder of his life, until his death on April 6 or 7 of 1614. El Greco was a painter, of both canvases and churches. Some of his most famous works include The Martyrdom of St. Maurice, Crucifixion with Two Donors, and The Holy Family. His life completely surrounded painting, and he produced a large quantity of masterpieces, such that his Saint Peter painting sold for over 1.2 million dollars in 2012. Greco did have a son, although he never married the mother. One of his first patrons was King Philip II, although Philip II did not care for one of Greco's works.

Famous Work

This piece is called The Holy Family with Mary Magdalen, painted between 1590 and 1595, in Spain. It can be found in the Cleveland Museum of Art. This piece shows Greco's sense of idealism, where the figures are brought into the foreground of a sky. This way of organizing a picutre is distinctly mannerist, meaning that it is highly intellectual and visually unstable. I think that the piece is interesting because of the stormy sky in the background. The importance of Mary Magdalen in the picture is that she is the first woman whose sins were recorded in the gospels to be forgiven by Jesus.


"El Greco." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Ig. Maseras Vallmitjana, Juan. "Mary Magdalene by El Greco - Elmondelart." Mary Magdalene by El Greco - Elmondelart. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <https://sites.google.com/site/elmondelart/mary-magdalene-by-el-greco>.

El Greco, European; Iberian; Spanish, 1541 - 1614, (artist) The Holy Family with Mary Magdalen c. 1590-1595 The Cleveland Museum of Art;Cleveland, Ohio, USA;Gift of the Friends of The Cleveland Museum of Art in memory of J. H. Wade;Convent of Esquivias, near Toledo; Juan Gutiérrez, Torrejón de Velasco (1899); Stanislas O'Rossen, Paris (1908); Marczell von Nemes, Budapest (Paris sale 1913); Gentile di Giuseppe, Paris (1917); (Knoedler, 1926);1926.247;http://www.clemusart.com/ ARTstor AMICO_CL_103798946 http://library.artstor.org/library/secure/ViewImages?id=8D1Efjk2NjsgQi85fzN7RXQr