10 Interesting Facts about El Greco

If you love to paint or are a painter, you might have known one of these following facts about El Greco, since his paintings are worth priceless. El Greco, was  a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. The name “El Greco” was a nickname, reference to his national Greek origin and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek, Domenikos Theotokopoulos. Born in Crete, he was trained and became a master with a tradition before traveling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done. To get to know more about him, here are the other facts about El Greco you may like.

Facts about El Greco 1: Dramatic Expressionistic Style

El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Facts about El Greco 2: Initial Training

El Greco received his initial training as an icon painter of the Cretan School, the leading centre of post-Byzantine art. In addition to painting, he probably studied the classics of ancient Greece, and 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.

Facts about El Greco - El Greco

Facts about El Greco – El Greco

Facts about El Greco 3: Technique and Style

The primacy of imagination and intuition over the subjective character of creation was a fundamental principle of El Greco’s style. El Greco discarded classicist criteria such as measure and proportion. 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.

Facts about El Greco 4: Byzantine Origins

Since the beginning of the 20th century, scholars have debated whether El Greco’s style had Byzantine origins. 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, while others had argued that Byzantine art could not be related to El Greco’s later work.

Facts about El Greco - Detail of St. Ildefonso

Facts about El Greco – Detail of St. Ildefonso

Facts about El Greco 5: Architecture and Sculpture

El Greco was highly esteemed as an architect and sculptor during his lifetime. He usually designed complete altar compositions, working as architect and sculptor as well as painter—at, for instance, the Hospital de la Caridad. There he decorated the chapel of the hospital, but the wooden altar and the sculptures he created have in all probability perished.

Facts about El Greco 6: Influence on Other Artists

His expressiveness and colors influenced Eugene Delacroix and Edouard Manet. To the Blaue Reiter group in Munich in 1912, El Greco typified that mystical inner construction that it was the task of their generation to rediscover. The first painter who appears to have noticed the structural code in the morphology of the mature El Greco was Paul Cezanne, one of the forerunners of cubism.

Facts about El Greco - Dermonition of the Virgin

Facts about El Greco – Dermonition of the Virgin

Facts about El Greco 7: El Greco’s Works

The exact number of El Greco’s works has been a hotly contested issue. In 1937, a highly influential study by art historian Rodolfo Pallucchini had the effect of greatly increasing the number of works accepted to be by El Greco.

Facts about El Greco 8: Earliest Works

Two works signed by Master Domenikos, an icon (Athens) and a small portable triptych (Modena), have frequently been attributed to El Greco, but, as the patronym is lacking, his authorship cannot be established with certainty. After World War II a vast number of mediocre panels by so-called Madonna painters (Madonneri) were attributed to the youthful El Greco, but they have now been discredited.

Facts about El Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

Facts about El Greco – The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

Facts about El Greco 9: Late Style

El Greco maintained a sense of idealism in his late pictures when the subject demanded it, as in his lovely conception of the Madonna in the Hospital of St. John Extra Muros, Toledo” and the “Holy Family with the Magdalen”. In these compositions the figures are brought into the foreground with only the sky as background, a method of organization that is distinctly mannerist.

Facts about El Greco 10: Single Figures

In addition to the portraits in the “Burial of the Conde de Orgaz”, El Greco executed throughout his career a considerable number of single figures, such as Antonio de Covarrubias (Paris), Fray Hortensio Paravicino (Boston), and Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara (New York), depicting the fiery inquisitor. Equally unforgettable are those in half length in a restricted palette of grays and blacks, thinly painted, such as Jerónimo de Cevallos (Madrid).

Facts about El Greco - The Disrobing of Christ

Facts about El Greco – The Disrobing of Christ

Those following facts about El Greco will definitely make you more admired about him. His works are ever-lasting and beautiful, even some of them were painted really amazing. Anyway, hope you found these El Greco facts really interesting and useful.

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