Although El Greco is today regarded as one of the leaders of Spanish Renaissance painting, he did not always enjoy that exalted status. His dramatic style perplexed his contemporaries. At the time of his death in Toledo, in 1614, Caravaggesque Naturalism was all the rage among artists and patrons throughout Europe -- a style extremely different from El Greco’s highly-expressive Mannerism.
El Greco’s work was soon forgotten and remained relatively neglected for almost three centuries. But in 1908, the Spanish art historian Manuel Bartolomé Cossío produced a key monograph on him, sparking an immediate El Greco craze. In 1910 the Marqués de la Vega-Inclán established an El Greco museum in Toledo.
The painter’s popularity flourished anew, as rapidly as it had faded. By the early years of the 20th century, artistic sensibilities had been broadened: the late-19th century break with academic classical realism allowed El Greco to be appreciated in a completely new, modern, light.
The Brussels exhibition will present an overview of the painter’s artistic development. A selection of outstanding works will include the stunning The Disrobing of Christ and The Tears of Saint Peter.
And, of special interest will be El Greco’s final testimonial series of Apostles: “a complete, astonishingly modern series, remarkable for its totally free forms and its extraordinarily bright colours.” Exhibit organizers claim that this visit to Brussels is a one-time thing … once the series returns to the Museo de El Greco in Toledo “ it will never leave again.”!