El Greco (Spanish, 1541-1614)
Known as one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time, Domenikos Theotokopoulos acquired his nickname “the Greek” from his birthplace in Crete. Painting in both Italy and Spain, he is considered by art historians to be one of the most fascinating painters of 16th century Europe. Beginning with the Byzantine style, El Greco eventually reinvented his style and transformed it into one wholly unique, western, and recognizable. El Greco traveled from Crete to Italy and painted a number of pictures commissioned by the Church, eventually leaving Italy for Spain possibly in search of commissions or royal patronage. El Greco painted for the clergy and royals alike, even acquiring a commission for the King of Spain, Philip II. The visual qualities of El Greco’s works changed over time, eventually leading to compositions that employed bold strokes of colors as a means of capturing dynamic atmosphere and lighting. El Greco’s pictures often warp perspective, allowing for a portrayal of psychological details as well. Religious paintings and portraiture make up the bulk of his works but he did execute a few landscapes, notably View of Toledo. This painting breaks with the naturalistic, formal structure typical of landscapes of the time and allows for the essence of the city to be captured as well. His reputation has changed over time, originally being perceived as an overzealously unique Italian painter and later embraced by the Romantics who prized the dramatic and extreme. Many now interpret his distorted images as being a forerunner of Expressionism.
Marias, Fernando. “Greco, El,” in Oxford Art Online. http://www.oxfordartonline.com.flagship.luc.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T034199?q=el+greco&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit
Image from Wikimedia