El Greco Essay

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El Greco is one of the few old master painters who enjoys widespread popularity. Like Vermeer, Piero della Francesca, and Botticelli, he was rescued from obscurity by an avid group of nineteenth-century collectors, critics, and artists and became one of the select members of the modern pantheon of great painters. For Picasso, as for so many later admirers, El Greco was both the quintessential Spaniard and a proto-modern—a painter of the spirit. It was as a painter who "felt the mystical inner construction" of life that El Greco was admired by Franz Marc and the members of the Blue Rider school: someone whose art stood as a rejection of the materialist culture of modern life. Born in Crete, El Greco was trained as an icon painter. Two certain examples survive, and these remind us of the Neo-Platonic, non-naturalistic basis of El Greco's art, before he set about transforming himself into a disciple of Titian and an avid student of Tintoretto,Veronese, and Jacopo Bassano. He moved to Venice in 1567 (Crete was a Venetian territory). There he set about mastering the elements of Renaissance painting, including perspective, figural construction, and the ability to stage elaborate narratives. Among his finest works of this period is The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind (1978.416). Later, in Spain, El Greco wrote treatises on painting. Although these are lost, we possess the copies he owned of the architectural treatise by the ancient writer Vitruvius and Vasari's Lives. They have El Greco's annotations in the margins. From Venice, El Greco moved to Rome, where he worked from 1570 to 1576. He arrived with a letter of recommendation from the Croatian miniaturist Giulio Clovio, who secured him quarters in the palace of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese—perhaps the most influential and wealthy patron in all of Rome. In 1572, he joined the painter's academy and he set up

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