A lower part of the “El Entierro del Señor de Orgaz” at the Museo del Prado

Several replicas of various masterpieces of El Greco have survived so far, which are regarded either as a work of that artist, or painted by Jorge Manuel, or by the workshop with more or less intervention of the master.

For instance, Camón Aznar mentioned in his catalogue 110 copies on the subject of St. Francis of Assisi. According to Harold E. Wethey, only 24 of those copies were painted by El Greco himself, whereas the rest would have been made by his workshop.

However, not any replica -contemporary to El Greco– of the “Burial of the Count of Orgaz” has remained so far. As a matter of fact, it is understandable that only few people were interested in that unusual subject, a mere local legend.

Even though two “Burial of the Count of Orgaz” were quoted in the second inventory made after the death of the master, one of them was a “borroncito” (a sketch), and it seems very unlikely that the other picture was the one nowadays at the Museo del Prado.

Certainly, El Prado Museum houses a very interesting replica of the “Burial”, which is thought to be painted some years after the death of El Greco. That copy represents the lower part of the original at Santo Tomé, although adapting it to a smaller format and roughly maintaining its compositional proportionality.

Title:The Burial of the Count of Orgaz “.
Date: 1625 ca.
Technique and Support: Oil on Canvas.
Dimensions: 188 x 248 cm.
Location: Museo del Prado, Madrid.

That painting was quoted by Antonio Palomino in the “Casa Profesa de los Jesuitas” (Toledo) in 1724. Due to its quality, it was firstly ascribed to El Greco, until Cossio rejected that attribution in his catalogue of 1908, pointing the name of Jorge Manuel as a possible author.

Currently, it is considered a late copy, painted by a single artist who imitated quite faithfully the images and the appearance of the original, but not the pictorial layers and glazes used by El Greco, by Jorge Manuel, or by the more direct collaborators of the master.

In any case, that skilled painter probably had been previously working at the studio of Doménikos, since he knew several pictorial resources that were used there. Certainly, he used heavily charged brushstrokes in zones such as the flames of the candles, the chasubles and the ruff-necks, whereas the processional cross was painted using small brushstrokes. Also, he scumbled and dragged the pigments in other areas such as the habit of the Franciscan, whereas  one head in the second row was depicted in a rather impressionist technique corresponding to the final stage of El Greco.

There are some changes at the little part representing the Heaven. The clouds are slightly higher than in the original canvas, while the three groups of cherubs have been eliminated. A small foreshortened angel has been moved towards the base of the clouds, in order to introduce that figure into that painting.

Moreover, a more interesting change has been made in the Terrestrial part. The cleric on the right, behind the main celebrant of the ceremony, has been curiously transformed.

Certainly, in the painting at Santo Tomé that cleric was a young man, with dark hair, moustache and goatee. However, in the copy at the Prado, he appears as an elder with a gray beard and hair.

Perhaps that cleric was responsible for the making of that painting. And maybe -if he really was the same individual- he was allowed to be included in that copy, reflecting the years that passed since he was portrayed for the first time in that masterpiece at Santo Tomé Church.

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Bibliografía:
Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Webgrafía:
https://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/obra-de-arte/el-entierro-del-seor-de-orgaz/46a8d08b-00ec-48c9-930c-92d517269fb8?gclid=Cj0KCQiAj4biBRC-ARIsAA4WaFhW8Feqe5LOSSuvwX2vdOnXyBhubXJjfmAdItsbwyP3y_zucM1gLGMaApTPEALw_wcB

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The Disrobing of Christ ( Half-Lenght Version) Cardiff

Camón Aznar suggested that El Greco had painted a second version of “The Disrobing of Christ” for the Cathedral of Toledo. This variant would have been a half-length one, in order to counteract criticism for having included the Three Marys and the Preparation of the Cross. However, there is no evidence that he really made that reduced variant for the Cathedral.

As a matter of fact, four half-length versions of “The Disrobing of Christ” are currently known. Certainly, it is likely that a possible prototype of these versions may be explained by the desire of El Greco to exclude the Three Marys and the Preparation of the Cross. But no reduced original of good quality, painted by El Greco, has arrived so far. There are only those four copies, considered of his workshop.

There is only one reference of a half-length “Disrobing of Christ”, which would be real work of the master. It is mentioned in 1687 in an inventory made after the death of Méndez Luis de Haro y Guzmán, but its dimensions (1.11 x 1.46 mts) do not coincide with the conserved canvases.

That version of Cardiff is considered as the best of the current variants, although its quality is much lower than the best full-length copies (that in Munich and that in the Museum of the Santa Cruz in Toledo).

Title: ” Disrobing of Christ ( half-lenght version ) ”
Date: 1592 ?
Medium: Oil on Canvas.
Dimensions: 130 x 163 cm.
Location: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

The three main figures in the foreground were carefully copied from the original in the Cathedral of Toledo, while the figures in the background were depicted a bit carelessly.

Cossio, Mayer and Camon Aznar think there are in that painting some intervention of El Greco. According to Wethey, it is a mere work of his workshop.

Curiously, the action takes place at night, and the soldier on the left top carries a torch in his hand.Light comes from the aforementioned torch, and from the celestial lighting that makes its way through a triangular opening on the clouds, somewhat to the left of the head of Christ.

In short, it is an interesting work, but it is a pity that has not have arrived so far a half-length prototype of the “The Disrobing of Christ” painted by the master himself.

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Bibliografía:
Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Álvarez Lopera, José; El Greco, la Obra esencial; Editorial Sílex; Madrid-2014.
Webgrafía:
http://www.villadeorgaz.es/orgaz-patrimonio-religioso-museo-expolio-4.html
https://museum.wales/art/online/?action=show_item&item=673

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El Expolio (versión de medio Cuerpo-Cardiff)

Camón Aznar sugirió que El Greco había pintado una segunda versión de El Expolio para la Catedral de Toledo. Esta variante habría sido de medio cuerpo, para contrarrestar las críticas por haber incluido las tres Marías y la preparación de la Cruz. Sin embargo, no existe ninguna evidencia de que efectivamente Doménikos pintara esta versión reducida para la Sacristía de la Catedral.

Actualmente se conocen cuatro variantes de medio cuerpo de El Expolio. Es probable que el prototipo de estas versiones pueda explicarse por el deseo de excluir las tres Marías y el hombre que prepara la Cruz. Pero no ha llegado hasta la actualidad ningún original reducido de buena calidad, pintado por El Greco, únicamente estas cuatro obras, consideradas de taller.

Solamente tenemos referencias de un Expolio de medio cuerpo, que pudiera ser auténtica obra del maestro. Es el mencionado en 1687 en el inventario realizado a la muerte de Luis de Méndez de Haro y Guzmán, pero sus dimensiones (1,11 x 1,46 ms) no coinciden con las obras conservadas.

La versión de Cardiff, aunque se considere como la mejor de las variantes de medio cuerpo, tiene una calidad muy inferior a la de las mejores copias de cuerpo entero (la de Múnich y la del Museo de la Santa Cruz en Toledo).

Título: ” El Expolio (versión de medio cuerpo) ”
Fecha: 1592 ?.
Medio: Óleo sobre tela.
Dimensiones: 130 x 163 cm.
Localización: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

Las tres figuras principales en primer término parecen copiadas cuidadosamente del original, mientras que las otras figuras se realizaron con menos esmero.

En esta obra, Cossío, Mayer y Camón Aznar ven alguna intervención de El Greco, mientras que según Wethey es una simple obra de escuela. En resumen, se trata de una obra interesante, que hace que lamentemos la pérdida de un posible prototipo de medio cuerpo, realizado por el maestro.

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Bibliografía:
Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Álvarez Lopera, José; El Greco, la Obra esencial; Editorial Sílex; Madrid-2014.
Webgrafía:
http://www.villadeorgaz.es/orgaz-patrimonio-religioso-museo-expolio-4.html
https://museum.wales/art/online/?action=show_item&item=673

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The Disrobing of Christ ( Munich ) El Greco

The Disrobing of Christ (Munich)

In spite of the objections of the commissioners of the Toledo Cathedral, the “Disrobing of Christ” must have been very successful, since more than eighteen copies of that masterpiece have survived so far.

Harold E. Wethey mentions eighteen versions of that masterpiece (four of them depicted only the upper part, without the “three Marys” and without the man who prepares the cross). These eighteen versions are of dissimilar quality, with greater or lesser intervention of El Greco himself, and/or his son Jorge Manuel, and/or other assistants of the workshop, but in any case demonstrate the admiration aroused by that magnificent masterpiece which is located at the Cathedral of Toledo.

It is generally agreed that the version of the “Disrobing of Christ” in Munich is the best variant of the main painting.

That canvas could possibly have been a preparatory oil sketch for the main work, and the authorship of El Greco is recognized by most of the critics.

Title:The Disrobing of Christ ”
Date: 1580-95 ca.
Technique and Support: Oil on Canvas.
Dimensions:  165 x 99 cm.
Location: Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

According to Harold E. Wethey, that picture comes from the workshop of El Greco, although that critic has no doubt that the master himself finalized it.

Although quite large, it is smaller than the canvas in the Cathedral of Toledo. Due to its shorter scale, the heads around Christ were reduced in number, whereas the group of the Three Marys and the man preparing the Cross are magnified. Perhaps due to the objections of the commissioners in his dispute over the presence of those characters, El Greco had to reduce their size in the final painting.

Also, the second character on the right side of the canvas has his back turned, so only his left ear is seen. In the prototype, that man disappears, whereas a middle-aged man is depicted from the front, looking at Christ.

In any case, the quality of that canvas cannot be compared with the prototype. There were unfortunate scratches on the robe of Christ, which have already been suitably repaired.

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Manusso Teotokópoulos, hermano de El Greco


Manusso Theotokópoulos
(1529-1604) doce años mayor que su hermano Doménikos (El Greco), parece que tenía una buena posición económica. En Candía (Creta) ejerció como recaudador de impuestos para la República de Venecia entre 1566 y 1583. Además, entre 1569 y 1583 aparece citado como Presidente de la Cofradía de Navegantes de Candía, y en 1571 obtuvo del Dux de Venecia una patente de corso para ejercer la piratería contra los turcos.

Con una buena situación económica y buenas relaciones con Venecia, es lógico que se hiciera cargo de la manutención y de la educación de Doménikos después de la temprana muerte de su padre, y posiblemente influyó en la posterior decisión de trasladarse a Italia.

Sin embargo, en 1583 Manusso quedó a deber 6000 ducados al gobierno, teniendo que vender sus vender sus bienes, y siendo condenado a prisión durante cuatro años para acabar de pagar la deuda.

Consiguió trasladarse a Venecia, presentándose sin éxito en dos ocasiones para el Capítulo de los Cuarenta, abandonando la República Veneciana hacia 1591. En esta situación desesperada, El Greco lo acogió en su casa de Toledo, dándole cobijo hasta el final de sus días. Quizás con eso no hizo más que agradecer el apoyo que su hermano le había ofrecido en la juventud.

La fecha de su llegada a Toledo es desconocida, ya que los primeros documentos conocidos están fechados a partir de 1603, y por ellos sabemos que vivía en casa de El Greco y que, contando con 74 o 75 años, se sentía “viejo, enfermo e impedido”. En los libros de enterramiento de la Parroquia de Santo Tomé, aparece registrado el 13 de Diciembre de 1604.

Título: (Considerado como) ” Retrato de Manusso Theotokópoulos
Fecha: 1603-1604 ca.
Medio: Óleo sobre tela.
Dimensiones: 47 x 38,7 cm.
Localización: Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, California)

Este cuadro se considera un retrato de Manusso Theotokópoulos, y obra de su hermano Doménikos. No hay pruebas fehacientes, ni de un hecho ni del otro, si bien es cierto que el personaje tiene un indudable parecido con los supuestos autorretratos de El Greco, como el que aparece en el “Entierro del conde de Orgaz”.

Publicado como auténtico por L.Venturi, Mayer, Longhi i Camón Aznar. Sin embargo, para Wethey se trata de una obra de la escuela italiana, y ningún detalle de esta pintura recuerda a El Greco o a su escuela.

Manusso viste una chaqueta amarronada con cuello de piel blanca y gorro de piel negra. Parece tener entre 50 y 60 años, o sea que es posible que el retrato fuera realizado a su llegada a España. Las libres pinceladas de la cara, cabello y cuello parecen estar abundantemente restauradas. Todo el conjunto destaca sobre un fondo verde marrón. Aunque El Greco usa una paleta muy restringida, como es propio en sus retratos de este período, las cansadas facciones de su hermano toman un carácter espiritual, gracias a las sólidas pinceladas empleadas para pintar el cuello y el gorro de piel, así como el aspecto abstraído y reflexivo de Manussos.

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PROVENANCE:
Colección particular, Bolonia.
Barón Michele Lazzaroni, París.
Colección Contini Bonacossi, Florencia.
Actualmente en el Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, California, USA)

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Bibliografía:
Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Álvarez Lopera, José; El Greco, la Obra esencial; Editorial Sílex; Madrid-2014.

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Sant Lluís rei de França, per El Greco.

Sant Lluís rei de França, i un patge.

Sant Lluís, el rei Lluís IX de França (1214-1270) fou un rei molt poc comú,  notable en la seva vida privada pel seu esperit d’austeritat i oració, i en la vida pública per la seva preocupació envers els pobres i desvalguts. Durant el seu regnat es va construir la “Sainte-Chapelle“, i fou iniciada la Universitat de la Sorbona de París. Emprengué la setena i la vuitena croada, en la qual va perdre la vida.

És molt important en la història de Catalunya, ja que l’any 1258 els seus representants i els de de Jaume I el Conqueridor signaren el Tractat de Corbeil, reconeixent definitivament la sobirania dels reis d’Aragó sobre els comtats catalans.

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No consta cap “San Luís” en els inventaris realitzats per Jorge Manuel després de la mort d’El Greco.

El pintor  va representar Sant Lluís amb l’aparença física d’un cavaller castellà, més que no pas com un rei francès. No té aura o qualsevol altra referència a la santedat i, en lloc de semblar immers en la contemplació, mira l’espectador amb expressió seriosa.

Títol:Sant Lluís, rei de França, i un patge
Data: 1585-90 ca.
Medi: Oli sobre tela.
Dimensions: 177 x 95 cm.
Localització: Musée du Louvre, París.

Aquesta pintura és una mostra de l’estil de finals del segle XVI d’El Greco, amb una figura de tres quarts davant un fons amb paisatge i arquitectura. El pintor li va donar una silueta allargada, mans i dits fins, un rostre pàl·lid i ulls fatigats. Dóna la impressió de tenir una barba espessa, acabada d’afaitar.

Porta una corona daurada amb flors de lis, i una armadura -que evoca la seva participació en les Croades- molt similar a la representada al Sant Martí, abans a la capella de San José, a Toledo.

L’austeritat del rei Lluís és atenuada pel mantell que creua en diagonal el seu tors, mentre que la seva armadura negra i daurada és representada amb gran versemblança. Aquesta armadura, junt amb el vestit blanc i marró del patge i el mantell taronja, donen un toc de calidesa a aquesta pintura, de colors força austers.

Porta amb gran delicadesa altres atributs del poder Reial: la mà de Justícia a la seva mà dreta i un ceptre de flor de lis – tradicional de reis francesos medievals – a la mà esquerra. El seu aspecte general contradiu l’energia que hom li atribueix, i que hom suposa devia tenir el cavaller cristià ideal. Certament, aquella pintura no sembla la imatge d’un Sant, i, si no fos pels atributs reials i pel patge, en lloc de ser la representació d’un rei, gairebé semblaria un simple retrat.

Al fons a la dreta, hi ha una columna sobre un alt pedestal, davant del qual hi ha un patge de cabell arrissat, amb un bonic vestit amb coll de “lechuguilla” i punys amb puntes, que porta a les mans el casc del rei. Jorge Manuel, el fill de Doménikos potser va posar com a patge, tot i que a “L’enterrament del Comte d’Orgaz“, -pintura del mateix període- fou representat amb el cabell llis.

Aquest patge és la part del quadre que millor s’ha conservat, perquè la resta ha perdut pintura, degut a neteges i restauracions abusives i/o poc acurades que han fet perdre la riquesa cromàtica que degué tenir abans aquesta obra.

Al fons a l’esquerra, una restauració recent ha descobert una vista gairebé esborrada de Toledo, amb l’Alcàsser i la torre de la Catedral.

Don Luis de Castilla, amic de confiança de Theotokópoulos i el seu futur marmessor, probablement va ser el comitent d’aquesta pintura, com a imatge del seu Sant Patró.

Sant Lluís era ben conegut a Espanya, ja que era nét d’Alfons VIII de Castella i fill de Blanca de Castella. Tanmateix, no es coneix cap pintura espanyola d’aquest Rei-Sant anterior al segle XVII. Curiosamente, una altra pintura important és de Luís Tristán, deixeble d’El Greco:Sant Lluís, Rei de França, distribuint almoines” (Louvre), pintat a Toledo, ca. 1620.

No sabem la identitat de la persona retratada. Gregorio Marañón va suggerir que un dement, resident a l’Hospital de Nunci a Toledo, va posar com a model per aquest “San Luís“. Cossío va considerat que El Greco s’havia basat en gravats antics, mentre que Álvarez Lopera, creu que el pintor -mancat d’imatges pintades anteriors com a model adient– havia tingut que crear una iconografia personal, basada en el realisme, la pròpia experiència, i usant com a model alguna persona de la seva vida quotidiana.

Sigui com sigui, aquesta tela és una de les obres més realistes d’El Greco, i personalment penso que és una obra mestra de la Pintura de Retrat.

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Bibliografía:

Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Álvarez Lopera, José; El Greco, la Obra esencial; Editorial Sílex; Madrid-2014.

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Saint Louis, King of France, by El Greco

Saint Louis, King of France, and a page.

Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France (1214-1270) was an uncommon king. In a time of warrior and promiscuous Kings, he was a very religious and ascetic one. He belonged to the secular order of St. Francis of Assisi, founded monasteries and convents, shared his table with lepers, washed the feet of beggars and prayed for hours. He had no concubines or lovers, something unusual amongst the Medieval Kings of France. During his reign the “Sainte Chapelle” was built, and the University of Paris was founded. He undertook the seventh and the eighth Crusade, in which he lost his life.

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There was not any “San Luis” in the Inventories made by Jorge Manuel after the death of El Greco.

Title:Saint Louis, roi de France, et un page
Date: 1585-90 ca.
Technique and Support: Oil on Canvas.
Dimension: 120 x 96 cm.
Location: Museo del Louvre, París.

El Greco depicted St Louis with the physical appearance of a Castilian gentleman, rather than that of a French King. He has no aura or any other reference to holiness. Rather than being lost in contemplation, he looks at the viewer with a grave expression on his face. The painter gave him an elongated silhouette, long hands and fingers, a pale countenance, with dark circles under his eyes. He wears a Fleur-de-lis gilded Crown and an armor that evokes his participation in the Crusades. That armor is very similar to the one depicted for the San Martín in the chapel of San José, Toledo.

That painting shows the style of the late sixteenth-century stage of El Greco, with a half-length figure standing in front of a background showing a landscape and architecture. The austerity of King Louis is attenuated by the drapery that crosses diagonally his chest, while his black and golden armor is depicted with great verisimilitude. Certainly, that armor, the white costume of the page, and the orange drapery add a touch of warmth to that austere canvas.

He holds with delicacy other attributes of royal power: the Hand of Justice in his right hand, and a Fleur-de-lis Scepter -traditional in French kings of the antiquity- in his left one. He gives the impression of having had a thick beard that was recently clean shaven.

The general appearance of St Louis contradicts the energy that an ideal Christian Knight had to have. Certainly that painting does not seem to be the image of a Saint. In addition, without those royal attributes, that canvas would look a mere portrait rather than the depiction of a King.

There is a column on a high pedestal at the right-hand side of the background, while the helmet of the King is held by a curly-haired page wearing a rich dress with “lechuguilla” and lace cuffs. Jorge Manuel, the son of El Greco perhaps posed as the page, despite the fact that he was depicted with straight hair in other works.

That page is the part of the picture better preserved, since the rest of the canvas has lost some layer of paint due to several restorations and cleanings.

At the left, a recent restoration has shown a stormy sky and a half-erased view of Toledo, with the Alcazar and the catedral bell tower.

Don Luis de Castilla, a good friend of Theotokópoulos and his future executor, was probably the commissioner of that painting, as an image of his Patron Saint.

Saint Louis was well-known in Spain, since he was grandson of Alphonso VIII of Castile, and a son of Blanca de Castile. However, no Spanish paintings of that King-Saint are known until the seventeenth century.

Gregorio Marañón suggested that a demented, a resident at the Nuncio Hospital in Toledo, posed as a model for that “San Luis”. Cossío considered Theotokópoulos based on old engravings, whereas Álvarez Lopera, El Greco -lacking of previous painted images of that Saint as a suitable model- had to create a personal iconography, based on realism, his own knowledge, and using an everyday person as a model.

However it is, I personally think that canvas is one the most realistic works of El Greco, and a masterpiece of portrait painting.

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Bibliography and Webgraphy
Frati, Tiziana; La Obra pictórica completa de El Greco; Editorial Noguer-Rizzoli; Milán-1969.
Wethey, Harold E.; El Greco y su Escuela; Ediciones Guadarrama; Madrid-1967.
Álvarez Lopera, José; El Greco, la Obra esencial; Editorial Sílex; Madrid-2014.
https://www.louvre.fr/oeuvre-notices/saint-louis-roi-de-france-et-un-page

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