El Greco · Mannerist · Uncategorized

Painting of the month


Christ driving the traders from the Temple  by El Greco about 1600

This was the chosen painting today for the National gallery’s ‘talk & draw’session.The painting itself has all the hallmarks of the mannerist style with its elongated figures and theatrical composition but presented in a way that was unique to El Greco.  Seventeen figures crammed into a space of 106 by 129cm each one dynamically inter-linked with the other like some elaborate dance. This effect is heightened by the dynamic contrasts of colour and the whole composition is off-set by the typical moon light effect lighting which gives the already uneasy scene a menacing air. Indeed we the viewers are very glad that we are on the other side of the canvas and not caught up in the action of the scene. The lynch pin of the composition is the central figure of Christ. This is no man of peace but a man of action. We can witness his ‘violent’ actions from the up-turned tables to the cowering figures of the money lenders. Christ had never been depicted in such a way and it must have been very disturbing to his patrons in particular Phillip the II of Toledo. Michael Levey speaks of El Greco’s “stormy spirituality” and to demonstrate just how unique his style was I have shown some of the artists work he was influenced by to demonstrate this.


The tribute money by Titian


The rebellious slaves by Michelangelo



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