The Crete-born and Spain-residing artist and architect Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614), known by his nickname ‘El Greco,’ was regarded with bafflement by his contemporaries, but has gone down in history posthumously as a major artistic influencer and source of inspiration.
In mixing Byzantine and Western techniques in a unique marriage, it is impossible to pigeonhole El Greco into one conventional school of art, but it is indubitable that his influence can be seen in a variety of artists to follow— his expressiveness visible in Manet’s work, his attention to structure visible in Cézanne, his form and use of space evident in Picasso’s ventures into Cubism. Read on for six of the best places in the world to view pieces of art by this remarkable artist.
The first port of call for any El Greco fan ought to be this Toledo museum dedicated entirely to him. Located amidst the Spanish city’s historic Jewish quarter, the museum— which first opened in 1911— comprises a 16th century house and courtyard as well as a modern extension. Highlights of the museum include pieces from El Greco’s last period, as well as furniture, pottery, and other art from the era.
The Getty Center, one of the Getty Museum’s two Los Angeles campuses, lies atop a hill in Brentwood, overlooking the city, and is accessible by funicular. One of the Center’s specialties is pre-20th century European art, and viewers to this stunning Richard Meier-designed building have the opportunity to view El Greco’s famous ‘Christ on the Cross’.
This Manhattan institution is one of the preeminent art museums in the United States as well as in the world at large. Encompassing multiple wings and a myriad of permanent collections as well as rotating exhibitions, the Met is a sight to behold and is well worth a jaunt to the Upper East Side, not least for its extensive collection of El Greco pieces in its European paintings collection— spanning the artist’s formative years in Venice, Italy to his final works in Toledo, Spain.
Situated along the beating heart of Washington DC’s National Mall, the National Gallery of Art’s campus includes a contemporary East Building designed by I.M. Pei, a neoclassical West Building designed by John Russell Pope, as well as a 6 acre Sculpture Garden. The museum has, since its inception in 1937, possessed a substantial and historically important collection of fine arts and decorative arts from the Western canon, and the NGA has the most extensive collection of El Greco works of any museum outside of Spain.
This Orthodox church on the Aegean island of Syros, southeast of Athens, is the home of the beautiful and venerated painting ‘The Dormition of the Virgin,’ the discovery of which, in 1983, led to breakthroughs in understanding of the famed artist’s career, from the chronology of his life to his technical influences.
A Madrid must-see, the Prado is Spain’s national art museum, and features a world-class collection— numbering approximately 7600 paintings, 1000 sculptures, nearly 5000 prints, and over 8000 drawings— of European art from the 12th century through the 19th, as well as what is without a doubt the world’s best Spanish art collection. For El Greco, head to the Spanish Renaissance section to see works including ‘The Trinity,’ ‘The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest,’ and other famous pieces.