El Greco paintings return to Toledo for anniversary

Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:40am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Raquel Castillo

TOLEDO, Spain (Reuters) - For centuries, Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco was a non-entity. No one studied his startling, unconventional work hanging high in a gothic cathedral, obscure convents and Spanish museums.

It wasn't until the 19th century that modern painters rediscovered the artist - born Domenicos Theotocopoulos in Crete then living and painting in Toledo, Spain, from 1577 until his death in 1614. They found inspiration in his bold colors and brush strokes.

Now the city of Toledo is marking the 400th anniversary of the death of its most famous resident with a series of exhibitions, conferences and concerts in the walled, medieval city, as well as in Madrid.

The centerpiece of the commemorations is the biggest ever gathering of El Greco paintings - in an exhibition in Toledo that runs March 14-June 14.

More than 100 canvases - many of them painted in the city centuries ago - will be on display in the Santa Cruz Museum and in other famous Toledo buildings such as the cathedral, drawing an expected million visitors.

"Almost all of these paintings left Toledo at the beginning of the 20th century. We are gathering them all from the El Greco diaspora," said Gregorio Maranon, president of the El Greco 2014 foundation that has been four years preparing anniversary events.

Bringing the paintings from major world museums and private collections has been an expensive project. Maranon would not say how expensive, but said it has been mostly privately financed as Spain's government has cut spending on arts, seeking to close an enormous hole in its budget and ending an acute fiscal crisis.

THE DISROBING   Continued...

The three-metre high painting "El Expolio", or "The Disrobing of Christ", by Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco, is seen in the the sacristy of the Cathedral of Toledo during a ceremony marking its return following restoration January 22, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hanna