Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco)
1541-1614 b Crete/Spain-Mannerism
Brief Biography-Domenikos Theotokopoulus was from Candia in Crete; little is known of his life in Crete except that he started his paining career there. He was later nicknamed 'El Greco' 'The Greek' by the Spaniards who found it difficult to pronounce his name.
In 1567 he moved to Venice to further his career. Venice was where most Greek painters emigrated to, as it was the political capital at that time. During his two year stay in Venice he was tutored by Titian. He went to Rome in 1572 and was introduced to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese who granted him a place in his palace. Whilst in Rome, it was rumoured that El Greco was asked by Pope Pious V to cover Michelangelo's 'Last Judgement' figures with loin cloths; it was said that El Greco suggested he paint over the frescos to paint new ones. Hence the outrage of other artists in Rome was the reason he left for Spain. But this theory is disputed as El Greco didn't do frescos. They say Spanish clergymen encouraged him to move to Toledo.
Diego de Castilla, Dean of Cannons at Toledo Cathedral gave him commissions on his arrival in Spain. He was to remain in Toledo for the rest of his life. He soon had a son, Jorge Manuel, who also became a painter. El Greco established friendships with the city's intellectuals, scholars and preachers. He received commissions for all of the main churches in the city. However his work never received the royal seal of approval from Philip II, but he continued to paint portraits of Spanish nobles as well as commissions for the religious institutions.
He lived a life somewhat above his means, other artists saw him as ostentatious and pretentious. El Greco saw the status of a successful artist as higher than that which was accorded to artists in Spain, as opposed to their status in Italy. He took several lawsuits against patrons, demanding extra payments. In his later life he whittled away much of his wealth on excessive expenditure. When he died in 1614 he was interred in a vault in the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo. His son Jorge Manuel didn't complete works on the church to pay for the vault and El Greco's remains were taken to the monastery of San Torcuato, which was later destroyed.
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saint martin and
in old age
of the virgin
a boy with
Lady in Fur
of saint maurice
Baptism of Christ