Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Our Moving Fate: A Study of El Greco’s Assumption of the Virgin Essay

Our Moving Fate: A Study of El Greco’s Assumption of the Virgin El Greco painted his â€Å"Assumption of the Virgin† in 1577 for the convent of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo, Spain. Born in Greece as Domenikos Theotocopoulos, (his nickname translates from Spanish into â€Å"The Greek†), El Greco was the top artist of the Spanish School, and was commissioned to paint â€Å"Assumption† to adorn the convent’s altar. The painting is a daunting size—over six feet wide and twice as tall—surrounded by a wooden frame tinted with a non-uniform metallic gold paint. The oil on canvas creates some, although not obvious texture, and brush strokes are visible only slightly in the garments of the human subjects. The Virgin Mary is the main figure in the painting, situated horizontally-centered in the upper-half of the canvas. She is wearing a blue flowing gown which begins below her bosom and reaches down to her feet, and a deep red fabric covers her chest and upper limbs. Her arms are outstretched and she is looking up into the heavens, flanked by female angels, adults and infants, who are praying and looking on. Below the clouds in the bottom-half of the canvas is a group of mortal men with mixed emotions and split into two groups leaving a part in the mass directly below Mary. All of the figures wear loose outfits similar to Mary’s, and many of the colors, bright but not full, are repeated throughout. One subtle detail particularly worth noting is a small piece of white paper in the bottom right-hand corner of the canvas. El Greco added the image to the paintings that he believed were his true masterpieces. Regardless of any analysis, it is certain that El Greco was extremely proud of â€Å"Assumption,† and believed it to be one of his best. .. ...â€Å"Assumption of the Virgin,† El Greco has done three remarkable things. His use of sneaky geometry and symbolism first completely hijacks control of the viewer’s gaze, and then creates a dynamic, accelerating scene on what is in reality a canvas at rest. Finally, instead of simply presenting a scene, he creates an actual anticipation of judgment, and brings the viewer so completely into the scene that he shares the same fate as the painted mortals themselves. It is fitting that El Greco’s masterpiece made its way to the altar in a sanctuary, where its effect would be most appropriate. And perhaps this was El Greco’s intention all along. As a believing Catholic, he must have been satisfied to know that worshipers praying in Antiguo’s church would witness, and literally join humankind as they desperately tried to please God, agonizing over his judgment of their own fate.

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