#FineArtFriday: View of Toledo by El Greco, ca. 1599


Title: View of Toledo

  • Artist: El Greco
  • Genre: landscape art
  • Date: between circa 1598 and circa 1599
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 47.7 × 42.7 ″ (121.2 × 108.5 cm)
  • Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art

About this painting (via Wikipedia):

View of Toledo (c. 1596–1600, oil on canvas, 47.75 × 42.75 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) is one of the two surviving landscapes of Toledo painted by El Greco.

View of Toledo is among the best known depictions of the sky in Western art, along with Vincent van Gogh‘s The Starry Night and the landscapes of J. M. W. Turner and Claude Monet, among others. Most notable is the distinct color contrast between the dark and somber skies above and the glowing green hills below. While influenced by the Mannerist style, El Greco’s expressive handling of color and form is without parallel in the history of art. In this painting, he takes liberties with the actual layout of Toledo insofar as certain building locations are re-arranged. However, the location of the Castle of San Servando, on the left, is accurately depicted. El Greco’s signature appears in the lower-right corner.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia

Doménikos Theotokópoulos (Greek: Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος [ðoˈminikos θeotoˈkopulos]; October 1541 – 7 April 1614), most widely known as El Greco(“The Greek”), was a Greek painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. “El Greco” was a nickname, a reference to his Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος, Doménikos Theotokópoulos, often adding the word Κρής KrēsCretan.

El Greco was born in the Kingdom of Candia, which was at that time part of the Republic of Venice, and the center of Post-Byzantine art. He trained and became a master within that tradition before traveling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance taken from a number of great artists of the time, notably Tintoretto. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best-known paintings.

El Greco’s dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century. El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school. He is best known for tortuously elongated figures and often fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.

Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “El Greco,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=El_Greco&oldid=911718617 (accessed August 23, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “View of Toledo,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=View_of_Toledo&oldid=873435033 (accessed August 23, 2019).


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2 responses to “#FineArtFriday: View of Toledo by El Greco, ca. 1599

  1. This is one of my favorite paintings. In my college art apreciation class I tried to recreate this painting. It was a hot mess.

    Liked by 1 person