Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known to us as El Greco, was one of the seminal figures of the Spanish Golden Age. Born in Crete in 1541 under Venetian rule, raised in the iconographic traditions of Byzantine art, and acquainted with both Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic practice, El Greco went to Venice and Rome in the late Renaissance, before seeking patronage in Spain at the court of Philip II. He was a painter not only of religious subjects, but also of idiosyncratic portraits executed in his own uniquely lively and immediate style. He spent approximately half his life in Toledo, a city with which his name has become indelibly linked, although he was never fully accepted there and had a reputation as an opinionated and disputatious outsider.
All this and more is detailed in this magnificent, richly illustrated book, which reproduces many recently cleaned and restored paintings, revealing hitherto unknown facets of his work. Fernando Marías looks behind the manifold and often conflicting myths about El Greco’s life and art and seeks the truth about the man and his extraordinary talent for invention.
Indispensible for serious students of El Greco, a painter whose life and art have been seen in very disparate ways over the centuries…Of particular significance are some 20,000 words in El Greco’s own hand, annotating the writings of Vitruvius and Vasari…Essential.
[A] welcome new monograph.
— The New York Review of Books
Fernando Marias, Professor of Art History at Madrid’s Universidad Autonoma, has received fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Trust and the National Gallery of Art. He is curator of the major El Greco anniversary exhibition to be held in Toledo in 2014.