Art and the Religious Image in El Greco's Italy
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Penn State University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book culminates a journey that began during my doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. I am most grateful to Michael Cole for pointing out the importance of this material and teaching me that the...
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The seventeenth-century poet and preacher Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino summarized the life of the painter commonly known as El Greco (The Greek) by writing, “Crete gave him life and his paintbrushes / Toledo [Spain] gave him a better...
Chapter One: The Divinity of Painting
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One of El Greco’s earliest surviving Cretan icons is St. Luke Painting the Virgin and Child (fig. 4). This icon is heavily damaged, as eroded portions of the surface obscure parts of the saint’s body. Both the nature and location of this wear are indexes of heartfelt acts of devotion by the faithful through...
Chapter Two: The Devotional Image
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The majority of paintings that El Greco produced in Italy were small in scale and featured standard subjects created expressly to meet the needs of private devotion. They took shape either as multipanel ensembles or as independent pictures whose small size facilitated easy transport. Because of El Greco’s lack of acclaim as a painter at that time...
Chapter Three: Synthesis as Artistic Ideal
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The celebration of artistic virtuosity that became part of the appeal of what I have called the artful icon permitted—even compelled—artists to use the most advanced styles and techniques when making devotional images. For this reason, El Greco embarked on a course of study after the best...
Chapter Four: The Theatrics of the Counter-Reformation Narrative
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El Greco’s penchant for compositional repetition shaped his production of two narrative subjects that appear prominently early in his career. His first two versions of the Cleansing of the Temple (see figs. 52 and 53) served as the basis for no less than six editions that all repeat the same basic...
Chapter Five: The Artist as Antiquarian in Christian Rome
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El Greco left Venice in 1570 to go to Rome and study works by Italian artists that he knew only through prints and other copies. Giulio Clovio’s 1570 letter introducing El Greco to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese as a young “disciple” of Titian is one of the few known benchmarks for the artist’s...
Chapter Six: From Icon to Altarpiece
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The years encompassing El Greco’s departure from Rome and his first activities in Spain were checkered with success and disappointment.1 Italy did not furnish the lucrative work opportunities that he had hoped to obtain, and his perception of the promise of prestigious commissions, which had...
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Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 34 color/50 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2014