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THE BURIAL OF THE COUNT OF ORGAZ BY EL GRECO

Carlos Aguado & Olalla Lodeiro 4ยบ ESO 10-03-2014 1


TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Greco’s Biography............................................................................................... p. 4-6 1.1. Life ............................................................................................................ p. 4-5 1.2. Work ........................................................................................................ p. 5-6 2. Formal analysis .................................................................................................. p. 7-13 2.1. Description ........................................................................................... p. 7-13 2.1.1. Objective ............................................................................... p. 7-10 2.1.1.1. Earth .......................................................................... p. 7-8 2.1.1.2. Heaven ..................................................................... p. 8-10 2.1.2. Subjective ............................................................................ p. 10-13 2.1.2.1. Carlos’ opinion ....................................................... p. 10-12 2.1.2.1.1. Earth .......................................................... p. 10-11 2.1.2.1.2. Heaven ..................................................... p. 11-12 2.1.2.2. Olalla’s opinion .................................................... p. 12-13 2.1.2.2.1. Earth ........................................................ p. 12 2.1.2.2.2. Heaven ................................................... p. 13 3. Formal qualities ................................................................................................ p. 13-19

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3.1. Introduction (Interpretation & context) ............................ p. 13-15 3.2. Light, colour and symbolism ........................................................ p. 15-17 3.2.1. Earth ........................................................................................ p. 15-16 3.2.2. Heaven ................................................................................... p. 16-17 3.3. Style ....................................................................................................... p. 17 3.4. Other characters ............................................................................. p. 18-19 4. Judgments .......................................................................................................... p. 19 4.1. Carlos’ judgment ............................................................................... p. 19 4.2. Olalla’s judgment ............................................................................. p. 19 5. Bibliography ........................................................................................................ p. 20-21 5.1. Information ........................................................................................ p. 20 5.2. Images .................................................................................................. p. 20-21 5.3. Presentation ...................................................................................... p. 22

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1. GRECO’S BIOGRAPHY 1.1. LIFE Domenicos Theotocopoulos, known as El Greco, was born in Candía, in the Greek island of Creta in 1541. There, he trained as a painter of icons following the Postbyzantine style. In 1567, when he was 26, he moved to Venice where he got to know about Tiziano and Tintoretto’s work and later, he learned the Mannerism of Miguel Angel (who had died) in Rome. 4


He emigrated from Italy to Spain in 1577. He came to Spain in order to participate in the decoration of the rooms in the monastery “El Escorial”, organized by the King Felipe II. However, he didn’t get success with this work. Later, when he was 36, he arrived in Toledo and he decided to stay here until his death in 1614. So, he lived nearly 40 years in Toledo where he developed his great career. From his hands tens of paintings came out, most of them about religion, which were used to decorate the churches, convents and monasteries in Toledo. Therefore, Greco’s work represents a brilliant page in the Spanish culture between the centuries XVI and XVII. El Greco felt a free man in Toledo and he brought forward some of the artistic and creative doctrines which would be included in the art of the following centuries. His son, Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli, was born in 1578. When his father died, he moved his tomb from the church of Santo Domingo to the church of the convent of S. Agustinas de S. Torcuato. Jorge Manuel, as an architect, managed the works of this building. But the convent was demolished in 1871 and due to this fact Greco’s remains disappeared. This year is the 4th centenary of his death, that’s a very good reason to know the work about this unique and genial artist and, although born 5


Greek, so Spanish and Toledan.

1.2. WORK Some of his most known paintings are: “El Expolio” (The Disrobing of Christ), “Laocoonte” (Laocoön), “El Caballero de la mano en el pecho” (The Knight with his hand on his breast), “Vista y Plano de Toledo” (View and Plan of Toledo), “La Coronación de la Virgen” (The Coronation of the Virgen), “El Entierro del Señor de Orgaz” (The Burial of the Count of Orgaz) which we’re going to talk about.

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2. FORMAL ANALYSIS 2.1. DESCRIPTION

2.1.1. OBJECTIVE

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In this picture, we can see two different parts: the Earth and the Heaven.

2.1.1.1 EARTH In the foreground, we can see two bishops who are holding the corpse of the Count of Orgaz. Both of them are wearing ecclesiastic clothes. The younger bishop is on the left and he is wearing a golden, red and white chasuble with a scene embroidered at the bottom. He has got brown straight hair. The older bishop is wearing a golden, red and white chasuble which has got some saint images embroidered on it. He has got a long white beard and a golden, white mitre on his head.

On the other hand, the deceased is wearing a golden, black suit of armour. On his neck he wears a white ruff which is typical of the 16th century. He has got black hair and a short black beard.

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Next to the deceased there is a boy who is pointing to him with his hand. Besides, on the other hand he is holding a torch. He is wearing a black garment and a white ruff. Behind the boy there are two friars. One of them is wearing a grey habit with a hood and he is looking at the deceased. The other one seems to talk to someone and he is wearing a black habit with a hood. On the right of the painting there are two priests. In the foreground, one of them is wearing a black cassock with a white alb on it. He is looking at the sky like praying. Behind him, there is another priest. He is wearing a golden black chasuble with images embroidered on it. He is reading a book which could be the Holy Bible. At the background, behind all these characters, there are many men who are wearing black garments and white ruffs. In the centre, two of them are wearing red crosses on their clothes. On the left there are three men with torches. Most of them are looking at the deceased although some of them are looking the other way. In addition, one of them is looking at the spectator.

2.1.1.2 HEAVEN At the top of the painting there is a triangle with three characters. On the left, we can see a woman wearing a red tunic with a blue veil (she could be the Virgin Mary). She is looking down to the Earth. Next to her, there is a man who is only wearing rags and the rest of his body is naked. He seems to be begging something to Jesus. Above these two characters Jesus appears, he is wearing a white tunic. Besides, behind

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the woman in a red tunic, there is an old man wearing a yellow tunic. He is holding two keys (he could be Saint Pedro with the keys of Heaven.) Behind this old man, there is a very young man wearing a blue tunic and he seems to be hidden trying to listen to anything.

On the right of the man with the rags, there are many men of all ages and they are wearing different clothes. On the right of the woman there are three men. One of them is playing the lyre and he is wearing a blue and yellow tunic. There is an arc near the third man too. There are many angels all around the painting. The bigger one is under the woman and it´s wearing a yellow tunic. It seems as if it’s holding a soul on its hands. In addition, there are two angels under the naked man and one of them is sleeping. Finally, on Jesus’ left there are two angels who are wearing white tunics.

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2.1.2. SUBJECTIVE 2.1.2.1. CARLOS’ OPINION 2.1.2.1.1. EARTH The deceased was an important good person for the village and by this fact there are many people in the burial. In addition, he was a rich man because he is wearing a luxurious armour. The boy, who is pointing to the deceased, is Greco's son, Jorge Manuel. In my opinion, I think that he really doesn't know what’s going on. The scene embroidered on bishop's chasuble is a martyrdom of a Saint. The friar in the grey tunic belongs to the Franciscans and the other one belongs to the Augustinians.

The skull on Priest’s chasuble is a symbol which represents the death. The priest in the white alb is praying to God in order to save Count’s soul. Among the men in black garment, there is a Greco’s self-portrait and

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we realized because he is the only man in black who is facing us.

2.1.2.1.2. HEAVEN Jesus, who is brought up by the light behind him, is at the top of the picture. Virgin Mary is next to him and the thin man with rags, who is by the Virgin, is Saint John Baptist. Both of them are trying to save Count’s soul. This soul is being supported by the angel who is in the centre of the painting. It symbolizes the link between the earthly world and the Celestial world.

The man with the yellow tunic is Saint Pedro with the keys of the Heaven. He seems to be anxious by the arrival of the soul to the celestial world. Under Saint Pedro, we can see three men. One of them is Noah with his ark. The other two men might be important religious people too. Under Saint Pedro and the angels’ scene there are three men. One of

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them represents Noah with his ark and the other two men are Moses and King David.

2.1.2.2. OLALLA’S OPINION 2.1.2.2.1. EARTH In the painting, I see a deceased, the Count of Orgaz, who is being held by two bishops. On bishops’ left, there are two friars. One of them is a franciscan friar and the other one, is an augustinian friar. In front of them, there is a child. He is Jorge Manuel, Greco’s son. On the left of the deceased, there are two priests praying for his soul. In the background, there are many people, and among them, it is Greco’s self-portrait.

2.1.2.2.2. HEAVEN I see Jesus in the center of the painting. On the right, there are many people. One of them is the Virgin Mary, another one is Saint Pedro with

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his keys and the other ones are the King David, Moses and Noah with his ark. Under Jesus, there is an angel holding the deceased soul on his arms. On Jesus’ left there are many people. One of them is an extremely thin man who is Saint Juan Bautista. Besides, there are two angels looking at Jesus. Under Saint Juan Bautista, there are two angels and one of them is sleeping.

Besides, when I saw the painting for the first time, I was impressed to see so many people.

3. FORMAL QUALITIES 3.1. INTRODUCTION (INTERPRETATION & CONTEXT) “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz” is the most famous painting of El Greco. It’s situated in Saint Thomas’ church where it was painted between the years 1586 to 1588. It’s an oil on canvas that measures

4.80m long and 3.60m wide. This painting represents the miracle of Don Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo (Count Orgaz). He was mayor of Toledo 14


and he became famous because of his generosity with the Church. In fact, he built many religious places. He wanted to be buried in Saint Thomas’ church when he died. Two Saints (Saint Esteban and Saint Austin) went down from the sky to bury him in the grave while the priests officiated deceased’s Mass. This magic event was passed on orally and it was recognized as a miracle in 1583. When this happened, Don Andrés Núñez from Madrid won a trial against the neighbors of Orgaz, so they didn’t pay the duties. He ordered to paint a picture to El Greco with the money that he earned. This painting would represent this miracle and it would decorate Saint Thomas’ church. When the Greco finished this work, he had several problems with the prize of the painting, but finally he earned 1200 ducats.

In 1625, Greco’s son, Jorge Manuel, painted a version of “The burial of Count Orgaz”, in which he only represented the lower part of the

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painting. This picture is in the Prado Museum from the beginning of the twentieth century. At the bottom of the famous painting the visitor can see the tomb where the corpse of Don Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Count of Orgaz was left. Below the original tombstone his wife Mary González lies among other people.

3.2. LIGHT, COLOUR AND SYMBOLISM 3.2.1. EARTH There are a lot of black, white and grey colours to give the picture a solemn atmosphere. In fact, the men’s faces are illuminated by the light of the torches. Throughout characters’ looks, El Greco represents the different types of men’s attitudes towards death: some of them are meditating, others are crying and others are telling each other the event.

Finally, the rest of them realise the miracle. On the other hand, this

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atmosphere is broken by the intense shades and the light over both saints and the priest. The author used this technique to emphasize the importance of these characters. In addition, we can see a skull which represents death.

3.2.2. HEAVEN

The characters that are closer to Jesus appear more illuminated than the others who are farther from him. There are three principal characters that make up an illuminated triangle. These characters are: Virgin Mary: she’s wearing blue and red clothes which symbolize eternity. San Juan Bautista: he’s wearing rags and the different contrast of light make him look like a real body. Jesus: he’s wearing white clothes which represent chastity. Besides, there is light at the back to bring out him. Other important character is Saint Pedro whose keys represent the

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heaven. In addition, the light emphasizes an angel who holds the Count’s soul and links the two worlds. Although the earth scene is so dark here, El Greco used very intense colours to represent the characters. This effect produces calm and peace in those people’s hearts. Besides, El Greco not only gets to show the differences between the two worlds but also he attracts our attention to the heaven and not to the Earth, following the Christian thought that Jesus is the goal.

3.3. STYLE This painting of El Greco contains all the characteristics of Mannerism. It’s represented by the plasticity of the characters’ hands. In fact, this is a feature that will be in all of his works. Other characteristics of this style are: long figures, cut figures, vigorous bodies, Horror Vacui (to fill all the painting space), implausible perspectives and brilliant acid colours. Besides, this style also uses lights and shadows in order to distinguish different plans. He learnt these techniques with Miguel Angel and the Venetian school but he developed his own style adding other features. Due to this, some experts don’t want to include Greco in Mannerism because his work is difficult to classify and they think that he doesn’t belong to this movement.

3.4. OTHER CHARACTERS

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El Greco decided to include people of his era in the representation of the miracle which had happened many years before. In this way, the painting became the first collective portrait in the Spanish History. There are many characters but we only know for a certainty some of them: -

Diego

and

Antonio

Covarrubias. - The priest of Saint Thomas’ church. - Don Andrés de Núñez, who

is

reading

the

response. - The King Philippe II. -

El

Greco

that

self-portrayed some

men

who

is

among were

probably his friends. -

Greco’s

son

called

Jorge Manuel. He’s ignorant of what’s going on. Besides, he has got a paper where his birth date is written “Doménico Theotocopuli 1578”. - King David symbolizes the prayer with his harp, Noah’s ark represents the baptism and Moses’ tablet symbolizes the law. - Other characters: San Pablo Apostol, Santiago el mayor, Saint Thomas, Mary Magdalena...

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4. JUDGMENTS 4.1. CARLOS’ JUDGEMENT I’d like to explain why I chose this painting for the project. I went to Toledo with my family last summer. There, I visited many interesting places where coexisted three cultures: Christians, Jewish and Muslim. The Burial of the Count of Orgaz was one of the paintings that I enjoyed more, so I liked its huge size and realism. I was looking at the picture during a long time trying to see all its details. However, I didn’t see all the features until I finished this school project. I’ve learnt to analyze different characteristics of a painting such as light, shadows and plans. Nowadays, I’d love going back to Saint Thomas’ church in Toledo in order to gaze at the painting again.

4.2. OLALLA’S JUDGEMENT My opinion about the painting is that the Greco used all the styles that he knew, he got to represent two worlds: the earth (the world of the life) and the heaven (the world of death)

5. BIBLIOGRAPHY

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5.1. INFORMATION “Greco, El. Domenicos Theotocopoulos...” [online]. Museo Nacional del Prado <https://www.museodelprado.es/enciclopedia/enciclopedia-on-lin e/voz/greco-el-domenicos-theotocopoulos/> [Accessed 24-01-2014]. Peláez Malagón, J. Enrique “El entierro del conde de orgaz. EL GRECO” [online]. Clío.<http://clio.rediris.es/fichas_arte/orgaz1.htm> [Accessed 27-02-2014]. Sánchez Lubián, Enrique “Descubre al Greco en Toledo” Toledo, 2013. “The painting” [online]. El entierro del conde de Orgaz. <http://www.san totome.org/indexnew-e.html> [Accessed 26-02- 2014]. “Universo Greco” [online]. El Greco 2014 <http://www.elgreco2014.com /#!de-creta-a-toledo/c10z2> [Accessed 24-01-2014].

5.2. IMAGES Carlos Aguado “Toledo’s Bridge” “El caballero de la mano en el pecho, by El Greco, from Prado in Google Earth.jpg”, Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:El_caball ero_de_la_mano_en_el_pecho,_by_El_Greco,_from_Prado_in_Google _Earth.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014]. “El entierro del señor de Orgaz.jpg”, Wikipedia. http://commons.wikime dia.org/wiki/File:El_entierro_del_se%C3%B1or_de_Orgaz.jpg [Accesed 08-03-2014] “El Expolio del Greco Catedral de Toledo.jpg”, Wikipedia. http://commo

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ns.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:El_Expolio_del_Greco_Catedral_de_Toledo.j pg [Accessed 08-03-2014] “El Greco 001.jpg”, Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:E l_Greco_001.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014] “El Greco 003.jpg”, Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: El_Greco_003.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014] “El Greco.JPG”, Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:El_g reco.JPG [Accessed 08-03-2014] “El Greco - The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.JPG”, Wikipedia. http://c ommons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:El_Greco_-_The_Burial_of_the_Count _of_Orgaz.JPG [Accessed 06-03-2014] “Entierro del señor de Orgaz.Miguel J. Meléndez.jpg”, Wikipedia http:/ /commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Entierro_del_se%C3%B1or_de_Orga z.Miguel_J._Mel%C3%A9ndez.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014] “Greco Coronacion.jpg”, Wikipedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F ile:GRECO_Coronacion.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014] Li Taipo “El Greco. Vista de Toledo (c. 1604-1614), Flickr http://www.fl ickr.com/photos/76509819@N04/11676705736/ [Accessed 09-03-2014] “Retrato de Jorge Manuel Theotocópuli.jpg”, Wikipedia http://commons .wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Retrato_de_Jorge_Manuel_Theotoc%C3%B3p uli.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014] “El Griego - Laocoon.jpg”, Wikipedia http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:El_ 22


Greco_-_Laocoon.jpg [Accessed 08-03-2014]

5.3. PRESENTATION Link: http://kururu123456789.wix.com/el-greco

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4º carlos & olalla the burial of the count of orgaz