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El Greco

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Scotland’s National Gallery in Edinburgh is a fine place to spend a couple of hours. The bulk of the stuff is good, solid, exquisitely brushed masterpieces by the likes of Titian, a whole load of other 17/18th century artists, and an absolute peach by Rembrandt, or you can go upstairs and look at more ‘modern’ works by Gaugin, Sickert, Degas, VG etc.

A painting of Christ by El GrecoI didn’t find it to be the greatest place on earth to combine entertaining your four year old whilst ingesting spiritual nourishment (I’m open to recommendations, should such a place exist). My four year old (Charlie) sat down on a ledge because he was bored to distraction and a jobsworth guard gave him a row for doing so – he’ll probably grow up with a pathological hatred of art galleries now – good work, mate.

As I was making my way through the galleries, with one eye on the paintings and one eye on Charlie, I was struck by this painting of Christ by El Greco. The figure in the painting stood out with greater presence than any of the others. I think I’d become desensitised to the technical proficiency of the previous paintings; El Greco’s rough brush strokes were a refreshing change. Also, the colours and lighting seemed much closer to the language of modern day illustration.

I wondered how this portrait of Christ must have been received at the time. Did El Greco strike his contemporaries as being as idiosynchratic as his paintings still seem hanging among them 250 odd years later? I never had time to read the panel. Charlie was off again.

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Categories: art