The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






El Greco

Baptism of Christ, painted 1608-1614
Baptism of Christ, painted 1608-1614

El Greco (Spanish for "the Greek") is the name by which Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541 - April 7, 1614), a Cretan-born painter and sculptor, is best known.

He was a master painter in Crete; he journeyed to Rome where he studied under Titian. In 1577 he emigrated to Toledo, Spain, where he produced his mature works. Many of El Greco's works are on display at the Museo del Prado.

El Greco was born on the island of Crete and first trained as an icon painter. At the age of 26, wishing to widen his artistic horizons, he travelled to Venice and Rome, before settling in Toledo, at the time the ecclesiastical capital of Spain. There, he led a successful career as a painter of altarpieces and portraits.

 Holy Trinity, 1577 (, Madrid)
Holy Trinity, 1577 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

After his death, El Greco's work fell into relative obscurity. It was not until the late 19th century that artists and critics renewed interest in his highly individual manner of expression. El Greco's liberation of form, light and colour inspired artists such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock in their efforts to transform the art of painting of the 20th century.

« El Greco sought to convey the essential or universal meaning of the subject through a process of redefinition and reduction. In Toledo, he accomplished this by abandoning the Renaissance emphasis on the observation and selection of natural phenomena. Instead he responded to Byzantine and 16th-century Mannerist art in which images are cenceived in the mind. Space is perceived in the imagination rather than misused; light is incandescent, fitful and unreal; colours are pure, luminous and unearthly; figures are elongated, energised and dematerialised. All are illuminated and quickened by God's Grace. » — David Davies

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Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou (born March 29, 1943) published a symphonic album in 1998 called El Greco, inspired by and dedicated to Domenikos Theotokopoulos.

Last updated: 10-24-2005 23:09:27
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