El Greco

Written by on December 18, 2018

El Greco was a key figure in the Spanish Renaissance whose work would go on to grow beyond his years on Earth. El Greco, which means “The Greek”, Domenikos Theotokopoulos was born in Crete in 1541. At the time Crete was a part of the Republic of Venice, and at some point, in his twenties, El Greco would head to Venice to study under renowned Italian painter Titian. El Greco would study and hone his skills for roughly the next 15 years in Venice and Rome before moving to Spain. After a short stint in Madrid, he would move to Toledo and finally begin to find success.


Once situated in Toledo, El Greco was commissioned by Diego de Castilla who was the dean of the Toledo Cathedral. During this time, El Greco would go on to create three of his most revered works. These paintings were, “The Holy Trinity”, “The Assumption of the Virgin”, and “The Disrobing of Christ”. His style was largely built on painting religious subjects but would not be limited to this as through the years he would continue to develop his unique style. In the later years of work, he would go on to lay the foundations of modern movements such as cubism and expressionism. His religious works also included “Saint Sebastian”, “Saint Peter in Tears”, and “The Burial of Count Orgaz”. What seems to be the Soul of an El Greco piece of art is the concept of two worlds, two moralities, good vs. evil. He would use bright colors to highlight purity and things to be cherished whereas areas of evil or impending doom are dark and dreary. In some works, you see this world defined by crisp and clear figures while the spiritual figures are painted in distortion and more whimsical styles.


A shift and growth in El Greco’s style can be seen in “The View of Toledo”. It is known as the only landscape done by El Greco, and for many reasons this was a far different piece than any other he had created. In “The View of Toledo” one can see the start of stylistic blending and distorted objects. In El Greco’s later years, he would begin to use this technique in the figures in his works as well. One that is well known for this is El Greco’s “Opening of the Fifth Seal”. This painting has been of particular interest as it often debated as a potential early influence on Picasso and his development of Cubism. In contrast to some of the earlier works which were crisp and bold this painting follows the linear dissent into a more abstract style that was started in “The View of Toledo”. 


El Greco would fall ill and pass away in 1614 at the age of 73, but his art has lived on. While he was a successful man and not exactly a “starving artist”, like most creative personalities he has gone on to be more appreciated in the time since his death. He was as bold in his work as he was in real life, he once criticized Michelangelo’s artistic abilities after-all. What he did leave for the world with was a collection of wonderful works that continue to be admired around the globe. From museums to the Cathedral of Toledo itself, today you can venture out and see his work first hand, and this comes highly recommended.

Continue reading

Current track




We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site.

We track anonymized user information to improve our website.
  • _ga
  • _gid
  • _gat

  • _ym_d
  • _ym_isad
  • _ym_uid
  • _ym_visorc_

Decline all Services
Accept all Services