El Greco By Abi Mangiafico

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, who was known as "El Greco:, was born in Candia on the island of Crete in 1541. Since he was the son of a prosperous merchant family, El Greco was able to receive an education in art, Latin classics, and Ancient Greek classics, at the Cretan School, known for its post-Byzantine artists. After painting and sculpting in his own workshop, El Greco went to Rome in about 1570, where he became a guest of the Palazzo Farnese, which was made by a Cardinal as a center for the artistic and intellectual minds of the city. He later joined the painter’s academy of Rome, but was ostracized after criticizing Michelangelo’s artistic abilities.

Then, El Greco went to Spain in 1577, where he tried and failed to get a royal patronage from King Philip III of Spain, but was commissioned by Diego de Castilla, dean of the Toledo Cathedral. He had a successful career with random commissioners instead of a sole patron. El Greco remained in Spain the rest of his life, and it was there that he made the majority of his paintings. He used naturalism in his landscape painting, View of Toledo. El Greco also did a few secularist paintings of noblemen and other people in power, although most of his paintings were religious.

El Greco created paintings, architecture, and sculptures. One of his works was View of Toledo in 1597, which was the first landscape of Spanish Art, and one of his only paintings that wasn’t focused on religion. Another is The Adoration of the Shepherds, in 1599, which is popularly with modern viewers for stretching beyond human reality. Also, the Fifth Seal, which was completed in 1614, was an influence on Picasso’s first cubist painting.

The name of this piece is View of Toledo, and it was made in 1597. It is currently being held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This piece was significant since it was made with oil paints on canvas, which was a new style of the Renaissance. Also, it was one of El Greco’s only landscape painting. The sky is dark and cloudy, which is a new technique, since before the Renaissance the world was not shown as it really is, which is typical and imperfect. The closest linked "-ism" is probably naturalism, as it is a landscape painting that shows the world how it really is, which can be seen from the dark and cloudy skies, where an idealistic painting would have a sunny beautiful sky.

I find this painting interesting because of how dark and different it is to the rest of El Greco’s works. While the rest are of powerful political leaders or important people and events from the bible, this is simply a painting of a city. The darkness and uniqueness of the piece makes me wonder what inspired him to stray so far from the path he had created for himself, as it is so different that it could not have been random. I also like how he perceives the city, how everything is dark and somewhat mysterious, as if the place he calls home is still scary and mysterious even after twenty years. It is a piece that not only leaves you wondering what the painting means, but also why it exists.


Created with images by Cea. - "[ G ] El Greco - St. Luke as a Painter (1608)"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.