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El Greco

1541 - 1614

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco, 'The Greek', was born in Crete, which was then a Venetian possession. El Greco trained in Venice, where he developed his intense, colourful Mannerist style.

By 1577 El Greco had settled in Toledo, Spain, where he lived the rest of his life, executing mostly pictures for local religious foundations. He was also active as an accomplished painter of portraits. In Venice El Greco worked under Titian; he was much influenced by Tintoretto and the Bassano. He was in Rome in 1570 and studied the work of Michelangelo and Raphael. As a native of Crete he was deeply influenced by Byzantine art.

El Greco received a commission from Philip II for the Escorial ('The Martyrdom of Saint Maurice'), but the painting was not well received. In 'The Adoration of the Name of Jesus' Philip II is seen in the foreground. The majority of El Greco's paintings were produced for Toledo and its neighbourhood. He made several versions of his most famous compositions during the course of his career.