Greek-born Spanish Mannerist Painter, 1541-1614
Considered a representative of late Renaissance Spanish art, El Greco was actually born in Greece, on the island of Crete. After studying in Venice under Titian, El Greco settled in Toledo, Spain in 1577. At the time he was wildly popular, his emotionally religious paintings being just the ticket for the hometown of the Spanish Inquisition. After his death his work was largely ignored until the beginning of the 20th century; now he considered one of the inspired geniuses of Western art. His distinctive style features bold shapes and colors, with elongated and slightly distorted figures.
In Toledo El Greco was in constant demand and liked living large: he maintained a private orchestra to accompany his meals.
ID: 62292 St John the Evangelist 1577 Black chalk with traces of white, on yellowish paper, 255 x 155 mm Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid The drawing is a study for St John the Evangelist, one of the six canvases that El Greco painted for the altarpiece on the High altar of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo The drawing, now considerably faded, served a practical purpose. The squaring of the sheet indicates that it was used to transfer the design on to the full-scale canvas. In many respects the painting follows the drawing very closely: the arrangements of the hands, feet and draperies are virtually identical