Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/El Greco

From volume XI of the work.
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GRECO, El. Domenico Theotocopuli, commonly called El Greco, was a native of Greece, where he was born about the year 1545. He appears to have studied art at Venice, where it is alleged that Titian was his master. The date of his removal to Spain is unknown; but in 1577 we find him at Toledo, engaged on one of his most admired paintings, that on the parting of the raiment of Jesus. Until now he had been content to follow closely in the footsteps of the Venetian school, and he is generally ad mitted in his earlier works frequently to have approached the style of some of its best representatives ; but in 1579, having been summoned, along with other artists of repute, by Philip II, to contribute to the decoration of the Escorial, he began to aim at greater originality of style with very unfortunate results. The first work in his new manner, having for its subject the martyrdom of St Maurice, was executed in 1579 ; in this, as in all his subsequent produc tions, a dull ashen monotony of colour combines .vith stiff and unnatural drawing to produce an effect which is at no time very pleasant, and is sometimes absolutely repulsive. El Greco, however, continued to be held in considerable repute in the peninsula ; sonnets in his honour are to be found in the writings both of Gongora and Pallavicino; and he became the founder of a school in which many of the disciples excelled their master. He practised sculpture and architecture as well as painting, and is said by Pacheco to have written with great learning and ability upon all these arts ; none of his books, however, have come down to our time. He died at Toledo in 1625.