The Saviour

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El Greco (1541-1614)

  • CE00001
  • c. 1608-1614
  • Oil on canvas

The Saviour initiates the series of the 12 apostles,masterfully depicted at the forefront of the painting, and capturing the viewer with their dematerialized and extremely expressive faces.Salto de línea

The figure of the Saviour is depicted frontally, in the manner of the ancient icons, blessing with his right hand and placing his left hand over the world globe. This figure is the only one in the series that looks straight into the visitor's eyes, whereas the apostles, on both sides of the Saviour, seem to look at him and converse with each other.

The version at the Museum is considered the most majestic of all the preserved ones and is signed.

Throughout the 16th century we find in Toledo interesting pictorical representations of the 12 apostles. These creations started with the predella of the main altarpiece in the church of Saint Andrew, a work signed by Juan de Borgoña and Antonio de Cremontes, in which the apotles are depicted half-length, in an attitude of dialogue and with a golden brackground. In El Greco's last years the artist renewed the meaning of these series and turned them into a novel production that was no longer destined to occupy a place in the altarpieces. He designed 13 individual paintings with the images of Christ the Saviour and the 12 apostles, cut out on neutral backgrounds, endowed with monumental form and psychological expresiveness. The apostles are covered with tunic and cloak and are accompanied by identifying attributes of each character. Salto de línea In addition to these attributes, El Greco envisaged, for each apostle, chromatic combinations for their clothes and their own gestures that would become codes of identification of the characters.Salto de línea

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El Greco’s style

Rafael Alonso, a restorer at the Prado Museum, analyses El Greco’s technique through the Apostolate series held by the El Greco Museum. The beauty of this series, painted during the artist’s final period, lies in the fact that it is unfinished, a feature that opens a window into the different stages of execution in the making of a work by the master Doménico.