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Major exhibition in Toledo commemorates the 400th anniversary of El Greco's death
A woman walks past paintings by Greek painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos known as "El Greco" during a exhibition at the Santa Cruz museum in Toledo, commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death, on March 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JAVIER SORIANO.

TOLEDO.- The link between El Greco (Candia, Crete, 1541-Toledo, 1614) and the City of Toledo is an historical fact and, yet, no exhibition devoted to this painter has ever taken place in Toledo.

For this reason, in order to mark the 400th Anniversary of the artist's death on 7th April 1614, this exhibition will be held in the city that best reflects his career and influence.

The exhibition will be staged at the Museum of Santa Cruz, extending to different spaces throughout Toledo known as El Greco Venues, thus providing an in-depth insight into the different places where El Greco carried out his work: the Vestry of Toledo Cathedral, The Chapel of San José, the Convent of Santo Domingo el Antiguo, the Church of Santo Tomé and the Tavera Hospital.

These venues preserve their original paintings, thus endowing this exhibition with its unique flavour, one that simply cannot be repeated outside Toledo.

The exhibition will contrast with others devoted to the artist to date, going beyond the habitual approaches. On this occasion we will come across a more complex character, one who is more closely embedded in the original artistic, work-related and intellectual context of the "Greek of Toledo", as he was known in his time.

In this respect, the exhibition will present the Cretan painter within his Toledan setting and milieu, as a leading figure in an artistic and cultural scene of trans-national and plural character, always seeking to explain his work within the context of the activities pursued by the artists who worked for Philip II and Philip III in Toledo or in Madrid.

The exhibition will commence with El Greco's activities before he arrived in Spain, in Candia and Venice and Rome, based on an analysis of his early training as a master painter in Crete and his gradual appropriation of Italian styles, influenced by Titian, Tintoretto, Giorgio Giulio Clovio, Michelangelo and other Italian painters.

A portrait painter
The exhibition will place a strong emphasis on his work as a portrait painter, the only genre in which he obtained fame and recognition from his contemporaries, even in spite of the contrasts between his work and the typical portraits that were produced in the Spain of Philip II.

El Greco will be presented as a painter of devotional images in Spain, linking this up with his commercial strategies and his tendency to produce serial replicas of his compositions, based on the final distribution of these works in the form of prints. In fact, prints constituted a medium that enabled him to both increase the number of paintings he could offer and diversify his range of clients.

Furthermore, it was in Spain where he would develop his taste for theatrical settings, evolving as an artist from a painter to an inventor and creator of complex and pluri-disciplinary alter-pieces, works in which he designed the architecture and the sculptures as well.

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