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El-Escorial, Spain | by Martin Beek
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El-Escorial, Spain

El Greco The Martydom of St Maurice and the Theban (detail) oil on canvas 14'8" x 9'11" 1580-82

Painted for the Basilica of El Escorial but now in the picture gallery.El Greco (medieval Castilian for "the Greek") is the popular name for Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος Dominikos Theotokópoulos (1541, Fodele or Candia (now Heraklion), Crete – April 7, 1614, Toledo, Spain), a Cretan Greek painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation.

He was a painter in Crete and first trained as an icon painter. At the age of twenty-six he journeyed to Venice where he is said to have studied western-style art under Titian and Tintoretto. He spent almost two years there before moving to Rome. In Rome, El Greco was influenced by the mannerist style as practiced by followers of Michelangelo. Mannerism appealed to him because of the talent and intelligence and virtuosity required to create the images. In 1577 he emigrated to Toledo — at the time the religious capital of Spain — where he produced his mature works. The Christian doctrines greatly influenced his life and his artwork, leading him to a successful career as a painter of altarpieces and portraits. Some works include The Annunciation, Laocoon, and The Repentent Peter. Many of El Greco's works are on display at Madrid's Museo del Prado; however others can be found in other places such as The Greco Museum and House in Toledo, The Museum of Santa Cruz in the same city, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

   

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Taken on September 12, 2006