Every struggling artist pins up his hopes of becoming a world renowned master on anything he can lay his eyes on. Inspiration can strike him at any given time, under any given circumstance. He has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish, what kind of legacy he would leave behind, what would set him apart from all others. El Greco’s Portrait of an Elder Nobleman may just be any random painting of a man, but for his followers, it is but an example of exquisite works that he was best known for.
Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete, Greece, El Greco was a master painter, architect and sculptor during the 15th century or the Spanish Renaissance. His nickname, El Greco, roughly translates to “The Greek”, pertaining to the way he signed off his works with his full Greek name in Greek letters.
He has cultivated his passion for the arts, having trained as an icon painter of the Cretan school – the primary school for post-Byzantine art. He was also an exceptional student who had a voracious appetite for knowledge especially in the Latin and Greek classics, having gathered close to 130 reference books, including the holy Bible translated in Greek.
At the young age of 26, he had already trained and became a master of the post-Byzantine art, and like other Greek artists before him, set off for Venice to start on his vocation. While others have chosen to follow a certain nature of technique from which to base their works, El Greco trailed a path of his own and introduced his take on interpretations of different schools or principles in painting.
His was a mix of elements of the Venetian Renaissance and Mannerism. The distinct elongated features of his models and the extraordinary use of pigmentation brought about realistic images that were so surreal; it is almost like peering into the very person himself. This cemented his stature as a master who championed Byzantine traditions and related it very well with the Western technique in painting.
The aforementioned portrait is literally of a nobleman, with striking features commonly found in his artwork, especially of the religious kind. This artwork is placed in Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. His exceptional method paved the way for the evolvement of cubism and Expressionism, a true honor indeed to have been the basis of future works and principles of painting. For a very young man, it seemed that he has been blessed with a lot, and a lot of his works are still enjoyed even with the present generation.