Domenikos Theotocopoulos

Domenikos Theotocopoulos (Spanish, ca. 1541—1614) is more popularly known as El Greco, Spanish for “The Greek” as a reference to his birthplace on the island of Crete.  He trained initially in Crete, and then moved to Venice where he studied the Italian Renaissance masters and their methods. He launched his career as a painter in Rome, but met with a lack of success possibly fueled by his criticism of Michelangelo’s abilities as an artist.

In 1576 El Greco left for Madrid, Spain, where he tried and failed to win the patronage of King Philip II. A final move to Toledo, where he was commissioned for three large altarpieces for the church there, finally gave El Greco the success he desired, and won him a circle of friends and patrons. His elongated figures and dramatic use of color and contrast were not widely admired in his own time, but have come to be celebrated and appreciated by later generations.

Self-portrait, 1604. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.