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Portrait of an Old Man with Fur (Manusso Greco?), c. 1590-1600

Domenikos Theotokopoulos called El Greco

Spanish, born in Greece, 1541-1614
Oil on canvas
18-1/2 x 15-1/4 in. (47.0 x 38.7 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

Born on the island of Crete, Domenikos Theotokopoulos studied art in Venice and Rome before finally settling in Spain. It was there, in Toledo, that the artist came to be known as El Greco and his unique style took hold. His audacious use of color, often called proto-expressionist, and his bold distortions of the physical world, often called proto-abstract, did not sit well with contemporary critics, but as he began to be embraced (and even collected) by nineteenth-century French masters such as Eugène Delacroix and Édouard Manet, he would ultimately be accepted as one of the most original painters of the Baroque period. In addition to the many church commissions he received in his adopted city, El Greco also painted a number of portraits. The sitter of this work is thought to be his brother or uncle, and the trademark elongated face and bursts of loose brushwork evoke the style of the spectacular church paintings for which he is best known.

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