Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco

Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco
Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco

The work not included here, The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, is an oil on canvas painting by one of the most prominent artists of the Mannerist era, Domenico Theotokopoulos, better known by the nickname El Greco. The work was part of the altarpiece that the artist made for the Convent of Santo Domingo in Antiguo de Toledo, this was the first work that El Greco did in Spain, his letter of introduction that should serve him to become one of the most outstanding painters of the Peninsula and so it was.


El Greco's artistic personality is so strong that his works acquire a certain,becoming easily recognizable: the elongated shapes of the characters, the bright colors or the gloomy environments are Some of the elements that, being characteristic of Mannerist aesthetics, the way in which the artist plays with them, makes them his own. El Greco (1541 – 1614) was one of the most outstanding painters of the Renaissance, born in Crete the first years of his career were spent as an icon painter but his artistic worth made him move to Rome to study the classics.

From Rome he arrived in Toledo in 1577 and it was then that the dean of the Cathedral of Toledo, Diego de Castilla, whom the artist had met in Rome, commissioned the Altarpiece of Santo Domingo. The artist worked meticulously for two years on the work -as we have alreadypointed out this was of great importance since it was his presentation as an artist in a foreign country- in nine canvases; seven of the paintings were part of the altar and the remaining two were conceived as part of other minor altars arranged in the side chapels.

The truth is that the Altarpiece that concerns us here set a precedent in Spanish altarpieces, until then no Spanish altarpiece had been conceived in this way, the work showed the influences of the Venetian altarpieces as well as the canvases. The artist presented an iconographic program in which The Assumption of the Virgin occupied the lower part of the central body, it was topped by a representation of The Trinity and on the sides were the figures of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist.

In the Assumption of the Virgin the artist establishes a division between the earthly and the spiritual, a scheme that the artist would use on many later occasions and that this time seems to be Inspired by Titian's Assumption of the Virgin. Below the Apostles are placed in different positions around the empty tomb of the Virgin while in the upper part a procession of angels receives the Mother of God.

María has been represented as a very volumetric figure, that she is ahead of the rest of the characters. Her position introduces movement on the canvas and her clothing is highlighted by bright colors. She is shown leaning on a crescent as a symbol of her immaculate nature.

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