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Artistic period 1551 to 1600




1541 (Candia)


1614 (Toledo)


El Greco (Spanish el 'der', Italian Greco 'Grieche'; * 1541 in Candia on Crete; † 7. April 1614 in Toledo); actually Domínikos Theotokópoulos, (Greek ????????? ?????????????) was a painter of Greek origin and chief master of Spanish Mannerism and the fading Renaissance. He also worked as a sculptor and architect. His artistic work began on Crete with his training as an icon painter in the Byzantine tradition. He moved to Venice and came into contact with Titian's art before settling in Rome. Afterwards El Greco arrived in Spain in an unexplained way and moved to Toledo. Despite some conflicts he was able to assert himself there and stayed until the end of his life.

El Greco mainly painted pictures with religious themes and portraits. There were also a few landscapes and genre paintings. In Venice and Rome he adapted western pictorial themes and artistic techniques. Thus he turned to oil painting and canvases as painting grounds. Towards the end of his stay in Italy, El Greco found a strong physicality in his figures, which continued in Spain. There he worked on large altar projects and made portraits of influential people. El Greco often designed the architectural framework for his altarpieces. His painting developed away from naturalism towards an individual style in which he tried to find a new expression for spiritual phenomena and in his late work increasingly referred to his origin as an icon painter. El Greco enriched Catholic imagery with new themes and a reinterpretation of well-known iconographies. His art was less promoted by the nobility than by intellectuals, clergymen and humanists.

El Greco's reception over time was very different. With his individual style he went his own way, which was largely independent of the development of painting in Spain. After his death, his art received little appreciation and was partly ignored at all. A slow rediscovery of El Greco began in the 19th century, and around 1900 he had his breakthrough. This was less supported by art studies, but by writers, art critics and the artistic avant-garde. Modern artists, especially Expressionists, saw it as an important point of reference and received it in their works. It was also used by Spanish artists and intellectuals to strengthen national identity.