El Greco, "the Greek from Toledo"
View of a portrait of Saint Peter by El Greco. Tavera Hospital (Toledo)
The burial of the Count of Orgaz View of the painting by El Greco in the church of Santo Tomé today.
Did you know that 2014 will be the commemoration of the fourth centenary of the death of El Greco? But who was El Greco? Without question, one of the most universal artists in history. A pioneer in his time, whose paintings revealed an astonishing modernity and came to influence the avant-garde movements of the 20th century. Originally from Greece, El Greco reached the pinnacle of his artistic splendour in the city of Toledo where he lived for years. Thanks to this, his masterpieces can now be seen in various places all over Spain. Would you like to find out where? Then accompany us on this pictorial journey.
Doménikos Theotokópoulos was born in Crete in 1541. In 1577 he travelled to Madrid and then on to Toledo where he lived and worked for the rest of his life, leading him to be known as "the Greek (El Greco) from Toledo". Although after his death his work appeared to fall into oblivion, in the 19th century he was "rediscovered" by the Romantics, and his paintings are today on display in museums throughout the world.
Once you've seen a few works by El Greco, you'll soon realise that his style is unmistakable. When you stand in front of one of his paintings, you'll notice his use of bright colours, his shadows, his imagination and his strength in representing religious themes. You'll have the impression of being in a world full of unreal elements.
The first essential stop for learning more about this artist is the city of Toledo (in Castile–La Mancha). If you're planning a trip there you should on no account miss a visit to the El Greco Museum itself in the heart of the Jewish quarter. You'll have a chance to see some of his best-known paintings, including "The tears of Saint Peter", "The altarpiece of San Bernardino" and "View and plan of Toledo".
Once you're in Toledo, you're bound to want to stroll around this World Heritage city with its own special charm, and its abundance of monuments and museums. Some of them also contain works by El Greco, such as the church of Santo Tomé, the convent of Santo Domingo el Antiguo, the Tavera Hospital, the Cathedral sacristy, the chapel of San José and the Santa Cruz Museum. They are all well worth a visit.
In the capital of Spain (only 70 kilometres from Toledo and with very convenient transport connections by train and bus) visitors should on no account miss a trip to the Prado Museum. This museum has an enviable collection of paintings including several works by El Greco, such as the world-famous "Nobleman with his hand on his chest". What other museums are there where you can continue to learn more about this genius in Madrid? The Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Cerralbo, the Lázaro Galdiano Foundation… All over Spain
Although Madrid and Toledo are the main stops on this pictorial journey, remember that you can also find works by this artist scattered around various places in Spain. Here are just a few. The Cathedral Museum in Palencia, the Seville Museum of Fine Arts, the Diocesan Museum in Sigüenza, the Valencia Museum of Fine Arts, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), the Cathedral Museum in Avila, the collegiate and parish church in Pastrana, the Municipal Museum in San Telmo (in Donostia-San Sebastián)… Why not come and enjoy the creations of the "Greek from Toledo" for yourself?