El Greco Shines, London Shines IV


National Gallery London and its Treasures

We have discussed in short the work on display at the National Gallery but El Greco is not just about one piece of art; he is not just the artist one can talk about in three lines and forget all about him and all his oeuvre.

Thus we will come back today to talk a little more about the masters work and his influence on us today and the art of today and yesterday!

Crucifiction at the National Gallery, London

Walking through the galleries of the National Academy there are plenty of paintings that merit a short stop and a good word about them. The El Greco work in the Gallery however, does deserve a long look, a very long pause to think about it and millions of words to write about its importance in our lives, its significance in depicting one of the most dramatic events in the life of Jesus and the way it was painted by a master some 500 hundred years ago.

El Greco came into art from a background that spoke of religious art, classical master painting, iconography of Crete and Byzantium and then Italian influence on his work which at some stage in his art played an important part until El Greco found his own way of expressing the divine, of narrating Christ’s passions on the Cross and in all his life.

Let us not forget where this man was born and what influences were there. Crete, Byzantine Empire just a few years earlier, The Fall of Constantinople, the escape of many people of letters and arts to the west and particularly to Italy, where the artist learned most of his trade. Thus, it is not hard to see how his art speaks of Byzantine art in the elongated body, in the positioning of the head and the body that signifies respect, human frailty and weakness towards death but at the same time, the eyes and head turning to the spirits and the powers from above, where all the power is emanating to assist us all in our daily lives.

Jesus as human but son of God is turning to the creator for mercy in the hour of need and torture in a moment of weakness, human weakness, but he knows full well that death is temporary, that his departure from earth will last only three days. He will be back to emphasize the power of the divine over death and why humans must believe in the divine as the origin of life on earth.

Humans are standing by suffering the passion and crucifixion of God’s Son and keeping an eye on the body on the cross, which they know will die and they will have to bury according to the traditions of the day. They know not that their temporary suffering would turn to happiness on resurrection even though Jesus told them that he will come from the dead the third day after his passing away!

The significance of the painting is impossible to be explained in words as this kind of paintings are spiritual and it is through spirituality that one can connect with them! I do aspire to impress on you anything else but my own weakness in describing the feelings I had on seeing well this painting of El Greco!

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