greek, active spain
Today considered one of the greatest artists of the Spanish school El Greco the Greek was actually born in Candia, the capital of Crete, a Greek island then under Venetian control. The artist always acknowledged this origin, signing his works with his given name, Domenikos Theotokopoulus, in Greek characters. The Kres appearing in some signatures means "Cretan." El Greco's early works demonstrate that he worked within the conservative tradition of Byzantine icon painting before exposure to Venetian High Renaissance art broadened his stylistic approach. In Venice by 1568, El Greco is documented in Rome in 1570, where he remained until 1577. There he gained entree into the influential circle of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and in 1572 was accepted as a miniaturist into the Academy of Saint Luke. Most likely seeking royal patronage, in 1577 El Greco moved permanently to Spain and by 1579 had completed the Disrobing of Christ, (called in Spanish E/ Espolio) for the sacristy of the cathedral of Toledo. One of El Greco's masterpieces, this painting exhibits the full brilliance of his perfect wedding of a highly idiosyncratic style with the emotional intensity of the Counter-Reformation. Although religious works predominate in his ccuvre, El Greco was also a masterful portraitist. Failing to secure a permanent appointment at the court of Philip 11 in Madrid, El Greco worked the rest of his long career in Toledo, where he died in 1614.