El Greco

By: Sophia Dimos


--This influential man was born in 1541 (the exact date is not kown), however the birth location was in Candia which is part of the Greek island known as Crete. Sixteen years of his life were spent in Rome and Venice, Itlay, but the bulk of his life was spent in Toledo, Spain. wher he stayed from 1577 until his death in 1614.

--His life was full of many accomplishments. By moving from Greece to Italy, El Greco was able to avoid the unsupportive French. He stayed in Venice, but later, his journey took him to Rome, where it was recorded that he remained for a few years. He latered moved to Toledo, Spain. The reason for his departure frome Italy is not certain, however many predicitons have been made. There, he contributed in three religious paintings (one was for a very high altar). Ironically, El Greco created religious pieces, yet he defied the Bible and did not marry the mother (Doña Jerónima de las Cuevas) of his child, Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli. He created many masterpices for multiple religious places of worship. By doing so, he gained connections. Some included Philip II and the Spanish court. The production of such a large number of masterpieces prevents a lot of them from being known. One of his major works is known as Burial of the Conde de Orgaz. Later in his life, he received many important orders to fulfill. This means that he stayed in this area for thirty-seven years. This is surprising mainly because he was Greek and his life was not spent in his homeland.

--His real name is Domenikos Theotokopoulos, however he acquired nicknames in Spain and Italy because his birth name was proved challenging to pronounce (El Greco and II Greco). Interestingly, this Renaissance man had a wide variety of background in literature; these included Spainish, Italian, Greek and Latin. He obtained many rare documents which he utilized to form his humanistic interests. His relocation to Venice was also a migration into an impressive artistic center. Despite this, he did not formerly attend any art schools. However, he did have a tutor or teacher that went by the name of Titian. This man was relatively important to El Greco because their relationship was the sole part that permitted a patron for El Greco's works. Others also influenced II Greco: "His interest in the composition of deep space reveals his knowledge of Raphael's murals in the Vatican, Serlio's books on architecture, and contemporary developments in Venice" ("El Greco"). He also had interest in the works of Michelangelo.

--Domenikos Theotokopoulos was a very famous, religious painter. Some of his works include: Martyrdom of St. Maurice, The Crucifixion with Two Donors, and The Holy Family. The lack of patronage received for El Greco resulted in the uncertainty of his exact works. However, one patron, by the name of Philip, was supportive. Also, churches were most likely very supportive of Theotokopoulos for he spread their ideas and expressed them in a manneristic way.

--El Greco utilizes multiple "isms." Humanism is the main piece that Theotokopoulos used. This is because he was inspired by literature. Also, the pieces relate to literature (the Bible). Throughout his paintings, emotion is shown by the characters. The main significance of El Greco is the fact that he used a new cult rather than realism/idealism ("El Greco"). His paintings still have idealism within. One can determine this because he drew heaven with such beauty. He illustrated biblical figures in unrealistic locations (like nothing so wonderful could be seen on earth/figures were departed from any earthly experience). Lastly, illusionism was represented by the Venetian style that El Greco was able to utilize. The work was colorful and had a deceptive feel to it.

--Interestingly enough, II Greco still signed his paintings in Greek, capital letters. This enables one to believe that he was proud of his heritage eventhough he left his country at a decently young age.

The Burial of the Conde de Orgaz

--This piece was started in 1586 and was finished in 1588. This magnificent piece is not like others, it is not in any museum, rather it is in a much deserved area, the church of S. Tomé which is located in Toledo, Spain. It is considered one of El Greco's greatest masterpieces for it combined all of this artist's greatest styles. The technique of mannerism was not new, however it is still used effectively in this piece.

--The top half represents the ideal, beautiful heaven while the earthly life is in the lower half. It is incredible how Greco was able to incorporate the people of Toledo into the oil painting. A man known as Don Gonzalo Ruíz had died, however he left the church a great deal of money. This act of kindenss resulted in the painting. In it, saints from above descend and bury this honorable man. They do with all of the guests as their witnesses.

--Humanism is the most closely linked. This is because emotion and expressions are shown in the facial expressions of each person. Also, this scene is religious in the fact that many saints take part in it. It is a revival of the biblical literature from the classical times. There are many bright colors too! Most importantly, it shows the relationship between the people of heaven and the people of earth.

--This piece is very interesting because it creates a mystical sensation. It uses imagination and makes the viewer really think about the image and interpret it as they wish. The art work is very detailed and precise.

--Link to Viewing Website

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Works Cited

"El Entierro Del Conde De Orgaz." Spanish Masterworks: El Greco: (1586-88). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Greek, 1541-1614

Burial of the Conde de Orgaz

ca. 1586-1588

Church of S. Tomé, Toledo, Spain

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Greek, 1541-1614

Portrait of a Man

ca. 1590-1600

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"El Greco." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 2

Dec. 2015.