THE GREAT ARTIST - El Greco (1541-1614)
Episode 8: El Greco (1541-1614)
The paintings of the artist El Greco are among the most distinctive works of the early modern period. His paintings marked a radical departure from the naturalism and careful modelling of the Renaissance, and as result were ignored for close to 300 years. Domenicos Theotocopolous, dubbed by the Spaniards ‘El Greco’, was born in the Greek Island of Crete and was trained to paint in the Byzantine style. After spending some time in Venice and Rome, El Greco adopted the Spanish city of Toledo as his home. Throughout the course of his artistic career El Greco’s style varied enormously. In Italy his paintings reflected the bright colouring and the loose brush strokes of the Venetian masters, such as Tintoretto, whilst in Spain the fervour of religious belief and lingering medieval sensibilities added an emotional intensity and deep sense of almost mystical spiritualism to his work. The result was a highly individualistic style of painting. Though criticised by many, El Greco’s dramatic style paved the way for the Baroque and later, in the 20th century, contributed to the development of Expressionism.
Works featured in this programme include The Purification of the Temple (1568-1570, National Gallery of Art, Washington), The Disrobing of Christ (1577-79, Toledo Cathedral), Martyrdom of St Maurice (1580-82, Nuevos Museos, El Escorial), The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586-88, San Tomé, Toledo) and Laocoon (1610-14, National Gallery, Washington).