Renaissance Triple Threat

Today it’s all about El Greco, or Doménikos Theotokópoulos (Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος), the famous artist born in Crete of Greek origin who is most well known for dramatic portraits with haunting, gaunt faces. He moved to Toledo at the age of 36 and worked there till his death in 1614 at the age of 73. He was a painter, architect, and sculptor. A true Renaissance triple threat.

Near here,

is his house that also serves as a museum. Unfortunately it’s shuttered for restoration when I get there:

So I make my way to the Church of San Tomé, El Greco’s parish church,

where one of his most celebrated paintings, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, hangs on its humble wall. This is long considered a Spanish masterpiece for its unusual composition, filled by a literal and philosophical divide between heaven and earth. The faces in this painting are so solemn yet expressive. If you observe well the locals walking around Toledo today, you can still see the same characteristics that El Greco captured perfectly in oil on canvas back in 1586.

Since we’re in a church and all, I have to make a confession here. I know you really shouldn’t take pictures when it says no photography allowed, but I have adored El Greco for a very long time and I HAD to sneak one when the guard sneezed and blew his nose. Suffice it to say I didn’t get a great shot:

But you can tell how big the painting is. There are better pictures and more information on this work here .

Most people pay to view just the painting and then move on to the next stop. But do go around the side and visit the small church. If anything, it is nice to sit there for a few minutes and imagine where El Greco might have meditated in any of these pews and drew inspiration:

Anyway, while the restoration is underway at the El Greco Museum, all of his paintings can be viewed together at the Real Fundación de Toledo, which shares space at the nearby Victorio Macho Museum. But what rotten luck–when I get there, the curator tells me that the paintings are on loan for an exhibit in Mexico City. This is when a teleporter would come in handy!

What do you say tomorrow I take you to lunch then we’ll talk about the other two reasons I came to Toledo.


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