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El Greco And His Style Of Art

1014 words - 5 pages

DOMENIKOS THEOTOCOPOULOS (EL GRECO) 1541-1614Domenikos Theotokopoulos was the last and perhaps the greatest mannerist of all time. Born on the island of Crete, Domenikos Theotokopoulos acquired the name El Greco, the Greek, in Italy and Spain. He was first trained in the Venetian School by an unknown Cretanian artist still working under the Byzantine tradition. After working as an icon painter, he left Crete in 1568 to study western-style painting in Venice. There he was influenced by the Venetian artists Titian and Tintoretto, embracing their rich colors and free, sketchy manner of painting. Such early Venetian paintings as his Christ Healing the Blind Man (figure 1) demonstrate his ...view middle of the document...

Although the spiritual climate of the Counter Reformation, which was extremely intense in Spain during this time contemporary Spanish painting was too restricted to hold the interest of El Greco. He had already formed his style before his arrival in Toledo and continued to explore and intensify the possibilities of mannerism while his contemporaries in Italy returned to more naturalistic styles. He quickly began work on his first Spanish commissions, producing numerous artworks for the church. El Greco's was well suited to the aims of the Counter-Reformation.The greatest masterpiece and largest of El Greco's major commissions is The Burial of Count Orgaz (figure 2), which was bought for 1200 ducados. The painting illustrates a popular local legend. In 1323, Don Gonzalo Ruíz, native of Toledo, and Señor of the town of Orgaz, died. He was a religious man who, among other charitable acts, left moneys for the enlargement and decoration of the church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's town church). At his burial, Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine appeared at his funeral and lowered his body themselves. The burial takes place in 1323, but El Greco represents it as a modern event, portraying among those in attendance many of the local aristocracy and clergy; Titan himself could hardly exceed the dazzling display of colour and texture in the armor and vestments. Above, the count's soul is carried to heaven by angels. The way the upper half of the painting is filled is very different from the way the bottom half is filled. Every form (clouds, draperies, limbs) takes part in the flame like movement toward the distant figure of Christ. The various aspects of Mannerism combine into a single overjoyed vision in this painting. The Burial also manifests El Greco's typical elongation of figures and a horror vacui (dread of unfilled spaces), features of his art that became more...

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