Thursday 16 March 2017

El Greco

The Apostles Peter and Paul, by Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), 1587-1592, (oil on canvas) in the Gateway to History exhibition at the Byzantine Museum, Athens.

This was another of my favourites in the Gateway to History exhibition.

The intensive colours of the cloaks, whose energy underlines the Baroque contrasts of light and shade, did not prevent El Greco from creating a balanced composition. The delicate painting of the hands and portrait-like faces concentrate the attention on the humanity of Peter and Paul while the freely executed patches of clothing give a sense of the greatness of the apostles' ministry.
El Greco emphasises the common elements in the faces, their ascetic nature - the two saints seem somehow reminiscent of figures on icons. Light slides across the figures and flickers in the colour, reinforcing the impression of unearthliness: the material world would seem to be retreating in the face of the spiritual.

Peter is passive and gentle. His pose, the somewhat weak gesture of his hands, the tilted head - all speak of a tender nature. Wrapped in a golden coloured cloak he inclines his head thoughtfully to one side as he looks towards the text being expounded.

The central focus is given to Paul. The dark red cape of the saint with heavy, wide stacked folds is the main colourful accent of the painting. The head of the apostle is outlined strongly and vigorously, the dark glowing eyes make the face especially expressive. This is a man of conviction, decided in his opinions and beliefs.

The hands are exquisite.

No comments:

Post a Comment