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An introduction to the life of domenikos theotokopoulos

Life[ edit ] Early years and family[ edit ] The Dormition of the Virgin before 1567, tempera and gold on panel, 61. The painting combines post-Byzantine and Italian mannerist stylistic and iconographic elements. Byzantine chapel at FodeleCretein Greecewhere El Greco was born Born in 1541, in either the village of Fodele or Candia the Venetian name of Chandax, present day Heraklion on Crete[c] El Greco was descended from a prosperous urban family, which had probably been driven out of Chania to Candia after an uprising against the Catholic Venetians between 1526 and 1528.

Nothing is known about his mother or his first wife, also Greek. In addition to painting, he probably studied the classics of ancient Greeceand perhaps the Latin classics also; he left a "working library" of 130 books at his death, including the Bible in Greek and an annotated Vasari.

The extensive archival research conducted since the early 1960s by scholars, such as Nikolaos Panayotakis, Pandelis Prevelakis and Maria Constantoudaki, indicates strongly that El Greco's family and ancestors were Greek Orthodox.

An introduction to the life of domenikos theotokopoulos

One of his uncles was an Orthodox priest, and his name is not mentioned in the Catholic archival baptismal records on Crete. His Dormition of the Virgin, of before 1567 in tempera and gold on panel was probably created near the end of El Greco's Cretan period. The painting combines post-Byzantine and Italian Mannerist stylistic and iconographic elements, and incorporates stylistic elements of the Cretan School. He lived in Venice until 1570 and, according to a letter written by his much older friend, the greatest miniaturist of the age, Giulio Cloviowas a "disciple" of Titianwho was by then in his eighties but still vigorous.

This may mean he worked in Titian's large studio, or not. Clovio characterized El Greco as "a rare talent in painting". There he came into contact with the intellectual elite of the city, including the Roman scholar Fulvio Orsiniwhose collection would later include seven paintings by the artist View of Mt. Sinai and a portrait of Clovio are among them. Clovio reports visiting El Greco on a summer's day while the artist was still in Rome.

El Greco was sitting in a darkened room, because he found the darkness more conducive to thought than the light of the day, which disturbed his "inner light".

In the portrait of Clovio, friend and supporter in Rome of the young Cretan artist, the first evidence of El Greco's gifts as a portraitist are apparent. By the time El Greco arrived in Rome, Michelangelo and Raphael were dead, but their example continued to be paramount, and somewhat overwhelming for young painters. El Greco was determined to make his own mark in Rome defending his personal artistic views, ideas and style. El Greco is said to have reacted most strongly or even condemned Michelangelo, but he had found it impossible to withstand his influence.

Biography of El Greco

As his own commentaries indicate, El Greco viewed Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael as models to emulate. Architect and writer Pirro Ligorio called him a "foolish foreigner", and newly discovered archival material reveals a skirmish with Farnese, who obliged the young artist to leave his palace.

A few months later, on 18 September 1572, he paid his dues to the Guild of Saint Luke in Rome as a miniature painter. Ildefonso 1603 In 1577, El Greco migrated to Madridthen to Toledo, where he produced his mature works.

He arrived in Toledo by July 1577, and signed contracts for a group of paintings that was to adorn the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo and for the renowned El Espolio. These works would establish the painter's reputation in Toledo. Allegory of the Holy League and Martyrdom of St. However, the king did not like these works and placed the St Maurice altarpiece in the chapter-house rather than the intended chapel.

He gave no further commissions to El Greco. Some scholars have suggested that Philip did not like the inclusion of living persons in a religious scene; [37] some others that El Greco's works violated a basic rule of the Counter-Reformationnamely that in the image the content was paramount rather than the style. Philip's next experiment, with Federico Zuccari was even less successful. An exceptionally large painting, it is clearly divided into two zones: Lacking the favor of the king, El Greco was obliged to remain in Toledo, where he had been received in 1577 as a great painter.

During these years he received several major commissions, and his workshop created pictorial and sculptural ensembles for a variety of religious institutions. El Greco's altarpieces are renowned for their dynamic compositions and startling innovations.

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El Greco made Toledo his home. Surviving contracts mention him as the tenant from 1585 onwards of a complex consisting of three apartments and twenty-four rooms which belonged to the Marquis de Villena. He lived in considerable style, sometimes employing musicians to play whilst he dined.

She was the mother of his only son, Jorge Manuelborn in 1578, who also became a painter, assisted his father, and continued to repeat his compositions for many years after he inherited the studio.

A few days earlier, on 31 March, he had directed that his son should have the power to make his will.

The Art of El Greco

Two Greeks, friends of the painter, witnessed this last will and testament El Greco never lost touch with his Greek origins. Art of El Greco Technique and style[ edit ] The primacy of imagination and intuition over the subjective character of creation was a fundamental principle of El Greco's style. He believed that grace is the supreme quest of art, but the painter achieves grace only if he manages to solve the most complex problems with obvious ease. Francis 1595, oil on canvas, Museo del PradoMadridshowing the artist's signature in Greek.

In his mature works El Greco demonstrated a characteristic tendency to dramatize rather than to describe. According to Pacheco, El Greco's perturbed, violent and at times seemingly careless-in-execution art was due to a studied effort to acquire a freedom of style.

A significant innovation of El Greco's mature works is the interweaving between form and space; a reciprocal relationship is developed between the two which completely unifies the painting surface. As Jonathan Brown notes, "each figure seems to carry its own light within or reflects the light that emanates from an unseen source".

He believes that in El Greco's mature works "the devotional intensity of mood reflects the religious spirit of Roman Catholic Spain in the period of the Counter-Reformation". Wethey says that "by such simple means, the artist created a memorable characterization that places him in the highest rank as a portraitist, along with Titian and An introduction to the life of domenikos theotokopoulos ".

Certain art historians had asserted that El Greco's roots were firmly in the Byzantine tradition, and that his most individual characteristics derive directly from the art of his ancestors, [62] while others had argued that Byzantine art could not be related to El Greco's later work. Although following many conventions of the Byzantine icon, aspects of the style certainly show Venetian influence, and the composition, showing the death of Mary, combines the different doctrines of the Orthodox Dormition of the Virgin and the Catholic Assumption of the Virgin.

The works he produced in Italy belong to the history of the Italian artand those he produced in Spain to the history of Spanish art". Davies believes that the religious climate of the Counter-Reformation and the aesthetics of mannerism acted as catalysts to activate his individual technique.

He asserts that the philosophies of Platonism and ancient Neo-Platonismthe works of Plotinus and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagitethe texts of the Church fathers and the liturgy offer the keys to the understanding of El Greco's style. There he decorated the chapel of the hospital, but the wooden altar and the sculptures he created have in all probability perished. Pacheco characterized him as "a writer of painting, sculpture and architecture".

He also saw Vitruvius' manner of distorting proportions in order to compensate for distance from the eye as responsible for creating monstrous forms.

El Greco was averse to the very idea of rules in architecture; he believed above all in the freedom of invention and defended novelty, variety, and complexity. These ideas were, however, far too extreme for the architectural circles of his era and had no immediate resonance.