El Greco

El Greco
   Popular nickname of the late Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos (ca. 1541-1614), who was born in Crete but moved to Venice. There he assimilated the characteristics of Italian Renaissance painters, especially Titian and Tintoretto. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he enjoyed the patronage of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Loss of this support caused him to move to Spain in 1577, where he received a valuable commission at Toledo but got into trouble when he refused to alter the painting to suit the preferences of the cathedral chapter and had to sue for his fee. Nevertheless, he was one of the artists chosen to paint altarpieces for the royal basilica of El Escorial, for which he produced The Martyrdom of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion. Once again, the work displeased his patron, King Philip II, who disliked the painting on both stylistic and religious grounds. El Greco returned to Toledo and about 1585 established a workshop. An important commission there was The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586). El Greco also painted a considerable number of portraits, of which the most striking depicts an important scholar and close friend of the artist, Fray Felix Hortensio Paravicino. El Greco's highly individual style combined the Byzantine tradition with the use of brilliant colors he had learned at Venice and with a unique illusionism that made his paintings transcend natural appearances in order to express spiritual reality.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.


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