A Repentant St. Peter c. 1600
Domenikos Theotokópoulos or El Greco was born in Crete in 1541. He moved to Toledo in 1577 after years of apprenticeship in Venice and Rome. El Greco's paintings have raised many questions as to why his subjects are elongated. Some theorists believe this is a result of an impaired vision. Others advanced that El Greco was merely using his own painting fundamentals to create what he envisioned as natural beauty. Nonetheless, El Greco left an enduring body of works. Many of the paintings on view at the Museo del Greco belong to the later period in his career including the Apostolate series. He died in Toledo in 1614.
In the painting above, a repentant St. Peter is portrayed with tears in his eyes. St. Peter is begging for forgiveness after denying Jesus Christ three times. The theme of repentance was common in the late 16th century.
St. James the Greater (Zebedee)
Oil on canvas, 1608-1604
"It is only after years of struggle and deprivation that the young artist should touch color - and then only in the company of his betters." El Greco
It is best to view the paintings of El Greco up close and in person to better appreciate his mastery in color application. The green cape of St. James (Santiago of Compostela) and the capes worn by the apostles in this series are painted in brilliant hues and show El Greco's command of color.
St. Bernardino Altarpiece, 1603
St. Bernardino Realino was a Franciscan missionary who spent much of his life preaching against vice and usury and espousing peace in his native Italy. Pope Pius II called him the second Paul.
This work is a fine example of the many paintings and altarpieces that El Greco was commissioned to do for the churches and institutions in Toledo. It is a full portrait of the saint and even shows his bare foot which peeps through the hem of his cassock. Beside it are the three archbishop mitres representing Sienna, Ferrara and Urbino which bishoprics he humbly turned down.
View of the rooftops of Toledo from the museum
The Museo del Greco is a recreation of the house of El Greco and sits on the property purchased by the Marquis de la Vega-Inclán for the purpose of establishing a museum. Don Benigno De la Vega-Inclán y Flaquer is one of the most important art patrons in Spain in the early 20th century and it was through his efforts that this museum was established and a significant collection of the works of El Greco were brought together under one roof. The Casa Museo has a chapel with a stunning coffered ceiling decorated in the Mudejar style, a traditional Spanish courtyard, a kitchen, a garden and well preserved cellars.
Cellars of the Museo del Greco
These cellars are what remain of the palace built on this site in the 14th century by Samuel Levi, the treasurer of King Pedro I. They were used as storerooms and had a bathing area.
"You must study the Masters but guard the original style that beats within your soul and put to the sword those who would try to steal it." El Greco
Museo del Greco
Paseo del Transito, Toledo
Images by TravelswithCharie