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The burial of count Orgaz

Painting, 1588, 480×360 cm

Description of the artwork «The burial of count Orgaz»

As is often densely happened in a time when did the artist El Greco, the origin of one of his most inspired and striking paintings, the world is obliged for a vain customer, who wished to capture the moment of his triumph. And although in the course of writing the painting "the Burial of count Orgaz" the painter had to comply with a number of precise provisions of the contract, in the end it exceeded all expectations. For her sake, one should come to the Spanish town of Toledo to visit a local Church, a parishioner which was, in fact, the author himself.

Ordinary miracle


A majestic work of art came to light as the result of a long series of events with a touch of traditional Spanish mysticism. Noble and pious Earl of the municipality of Orgaz in his last will ordered the inhabitants were in its supervision of the village to donate to his parish Church a gift of two sheep, 16 chickens, a couple of furs for wines and loads of wood but still 800 coins cash.

The peasants hesitated to execute bequeathed to the Earl's wishes, and the parish priest sent the case to the court. In honor of the victory in the trial in 1564, it was decided to perpetuate the memory of the count of Orgaz epitaph in stone, where Latin was described a miracle that happened during his burial. According to legend, in 1323, the saints Augustine and Stephen came down from heaven, in order personally to accompany the pious nobleman on his last journey.

And yet two decades later, March 15, 1586, El Greco signed a contract whereby he undertook to Christmas to finish the canvas, painting an extraordinary event two centuries ago. The cost of the work was to be determined upon completion. And it took much longer under contract, and lasted until the spring of 1588.

The skill of the painter was estimated at 1,200 ducats. It was a lot in those days, especially when you consider that "The martyrdom of St. Mauritius" the brush of El Greco was in due time paid 800 ducats, and for the most famous "The plundering" and even less – only 318. But it did not suit the artist, who believed that a large-scale painting, the creation of which he spent two years, should be evaluated much higher.

The case involved a Council of archbishops, who ruled that the initial assessment was fair. Indeed, despite the fact that the artist meticulously complied with all the requirements specified by the contract, he could not refrain from self-will, giving the work the flavor inherent in Byzantine iconography.

El Greco, his son and all


Indeed, the painting "the Burial of count Orgaz" seems to be divided into two parts. One of them, the "lower" world, at the mercy of the customer and made in the best traditions of Renaissance painting. This is a carefully drawn group portrait, which, in addition to the higher nobility of Toledo (many contemporaries recognize themselves in them, or their neighbors), the hidden self-portrait of the author (looking to the viewer's eyes PRAMO head over to St. Stephen's), and even a portrait of his infant son. Jorge Manuel identified in the lower left part of the canvas on the handkerchief, on the corner of El Greco left a signature in Greek, and date of birth of the offspring – the year 1578.

The artistic language of the upper, divine world is very different from the naturalism of the lower part of the picture. The proportions of the figures of angels and saints in Mannerist elongated and distorted, different plans, composition and oddly intertwined. Everywhere has a dazzling light, drawing the silky highlights to flowing robes of gods.

The composition is crowned by Christ in shining white Cape. Just below the depicted Saint Peter with the keys of heaven, mother of God, shimmering folds of the mantle which can be seen for many minutes, and John the Baptist, according to classical iconography, is depicted in the meanest of clothes, the arm extending in a traditional gesture of prayer intercession. At their base – angel in the enchanting Golden tunic gently lifts to heaven the soul of the deceased, of the mortal body which meanwhile care saints Stephen and Augustine, dressed in Catholic priestly vestments.

Strict, static and filled with a sad solemnity to the moment of burial is emphasized and enhanced by dynamics swirling, expanding in all directions of the sky in the upper part of the canvas. This opposition and at the same time the interaction between the two worlds makes the viewer again and again to translate the look scary and ghastly grey of the face of the count of Orgaz to the slim triad of the Deesis.

Apparently, it was too long keen Salvador Dali. Rumor has it that when he first saw the painting of El Greco "the Burial of count Orgaz", the eccentric artist fainted in the middle of the Church of Santo Tomé.

Author: Natalia Azarenka
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Mannerism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1588

Size: 480×360 cm

Artwork in selections: 20 selections

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