DOMÉNIKOS THEOTOKÓPOULOS, KNOWN AS "EL GRECO"

Crete, 1541 – Toledo, 1614

Saint Francis of Assisi

Oil on canvas

101 x 89 cm.

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DOMÉNIKOS THEOTOKÓPOULOS, KNOWN AS "EL GRECO"

Crete, 1541 – Toledo, 1614

It is not for nothing that superlatives abound when referring to El Greco and his art. The Cretan-born icon-painter followed many paths before finally settling in Toledo, Spain, where he lived for the rest of his life, and where he executed some of the most powerful and abstract pictures of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Greco’s style could be broadly described as mannerist with clear debts to Byzantine, Venetian and Roman art also being evident. With this sensational  canvas of Saint Francis, Greco displayed his rejection of naturalism and his adoption of elongated, twisting forms, exaggerated facial features, bold brushstrokes and intensely surreal backgrounds. The result of this conflagration of elements is an image intended to inspire an intensely spiritual experience in the onlooker much in the same way that Byzantine icons did.

Greco’s work has often been called modernist and ahead of its time, which may simply be convenient terminology to categorise his ardour and energy. But the impact of his work, and in particular this Saint Francis, must surely be the bold abstraction of the form, which transcends time, style and subject matter.

Technical data

DOMÉNIKOS THEOTOKÓPOULOS, KNOWN AS "EL GRECO"

Crete, 1541 – Toledo, 1614

Saint Francis of Assisi

Oil on canvas

101 x 89 cm.