Jan 052008
El Greco: The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

That’s a pretty odd sounding name. Though, there is indeed something orgiastic in the happenings above the funeral, in the strict formal sense. The commotion taking place in the celestial scene (the painting is located in the Church of Santo Tomé, Toledo) appears like the exact opposite of the appropriately grave conduct below: disorderly, joyfully […]

Jan 042008
El Greco: The Holy Family (with Saint Anne)

The first thing I noticed about this painting was St. Joseph’s hand supporting the baby’s foot: Raphael’s invention in a different variation. The second was the strange looking clouds, the gape above the Virgin’s head serving as a halo. While these features differ significantly in their specificity, they may both index El Greco’s ability to […]

Dec 252007
El Greco: The Disrobing of Christ (El Espolio)

The visual and technical grandeur of this painting (hanging in Toledo Cathedral, a Gothic monument — click here to see more explained photographs of Toledo Cathedral), described in numerous essays and books on El Greco (britannica full article) is overwhelming. The shocking red of the protagonist’s garment immediately forces the mood; color dominates the image […]

Dec 232007
Raphael: The Sistine Madonna

This painting (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden) combines secular and earthly clerical elements with the divine in an ostensible theatrical interplay. The lid of the coffin of Pope Julius II forms the stage, while the tableau curtains are drawn apart to reveal the divine action. This hierarchical pastiche communicates the heavens to the devout in a […]

Dec 172007
Raphael: The Esterhazy Madonna

This painting (hanging in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts) manifests a strong classical bent. The odd coloring of the babies, the musical instrument in the hands of one of them and the more obvious ancient architectural elements in the back, they all contribute to the thematic epochal dating. The flat hue of the children’s […]