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The Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Infant John the BaptistThe Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Infant John the BaptistEl GrecoSpanish/Venetian Renaissance1595-160053.2 x 34.4 cm (20 15/16 x 13 9/16 in.)Oil on CanvasNational Gallery of ArtWashington, D.C.http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb.html<p>Domenikos Theotocopoulos (El Greco) - Candia, ca. 1541- Toledo, 1614</p><p>El Greco has remained one of the most interesting painters in Western art history, not only because of his condition as an emigrant artist, but also because of his unique painting style. Born in Crete, El Greco studied to become an icon painter, using tempera as his main medium of work, and following the precepts of Byzantine art.  His ambitious nature led him to Venice around 1567, where he stayed for three years before moving to Rome.  During this time, he became acquainted with the Venetian school and embraced oil painting, and his works started to reflect a characteristic vibrant palette.  El Greco's use of the <em>Mantelillo veneziano</em> as support for his large works, his preference for a colored <em>imprimatura, </em>and his free use of the brush are all elements that are closely associated with the Venetian style of painting.  After 1577, El Greco moved to Toledo and remained there for the rest of his life. In this city, he received his most important commissions which included religious paintings as well as portraits.   </p><p>A characteristic feature of El Greco's technique is his refined use of an <em>imprimatura</em>, a preliminary oil underpainting that ranges from a pale grey to a strong orange.  These types of preliminary sketches allowed him achieve specific tonal effects in only a few layers of painting.  Evidence has also suggested that El Greco may have occasionally painted with <em>tempera grassa</em>, a technique that combines egg tempera and drying oils.  His loose brushstroke, described as a group of "blobs" by Francisco Pacheco, hides the painter's detailed planning in every step of the process, a fact that distinguishes his work from the work of his apprentices and followers.</p><p>Larger versions of the same painting are located in the Prado Museum, in the Santa Cruz Museum (Toledo), and in the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford. The painting at the National Gallery or Art in Washington presents changes in composition in relation to the version in Toledo.  Moreover, Saint Joseph appears much younger in the painting at the Prado, although the composition is virtually the same.</p><p>Francisco Pacheco mentioned that El Greco kept small copies of his works, all done in oil, as a catalogue of his body of work.  Although Pacheco called these paintings “originals,” this description is still open to interpretation. Technical analyses have demonstrated that some of these small versions are copies of larger paintings (<em>ricordi</em>) and others, on the other hand, are sketches (<em>modelli</em>).  The National Gallery version is believed to be a <em>ricordo</em> of the painting in Toledo and a <em>modello</em> for the version at El Prado.</p><p><a href="http://www.artbabble.org/video/ngadc/conservation-lab-el-greco-s-saint-martin-and-beggar">Conservation of El Greco's <em>Saint Martin and the Beggar.</em></a></p><p>This ArtBabble video focuses on the conservation of El Greco's <em>Saint Martin and the Beggar</em> at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.</p><p><a href="http://www.morana-rtd.com/e-preservationscience/2011/Kriznar-08-11-2011-1.pdf">A comparison of pigments applied in an original painting by El Greco and a copy by an anonymous follower.</a></p><p>The authors of this article applied XRF techniques to study two paintings belonging to the Fine Arts Museum of Seville in an attempt to distinguish an original from a painting by an anonymous follower. The analysis of the <em>Portrait of His Son Jorge Manuel</em>, by El Greco, and <em>The Portrait of Fray Hortensio Felix de Paraviccino</em> demonstrated differences in the use of certain pigments. </p><p><a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/pubs/bulletins/1/pdf/3259011.pdf.bannered.pdf">El Greco by Katharine Baetjer</a></p><p>This is a short monograph of the painter written by Katharine Baetjer and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin in the summer of 1981. It includes high resolution images of several of his paintings, including some details. </p><p><a href="https://www.museodelprado.es/uploads/tx_gbboletinobras/numero_08_05.pdf">Estudio técnico comparativo de dos Sagradas Familias del Greco - Boletín del Museo del Prado</a> </p><p>A technical study written by José María Cabrera Garrido and María del Carmen Garrido Pérez complete with x-radiographs and cross-sections.</p><p>Brown, Jonathan. <em>Painting in Spain 1500-1700. </em>New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.</p><p>Brown, Jonathan and Richard G. Mann. <em>Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. </em>Washington: National Gallery of Art and Cambridge University Press, 1990.</p><p>Bruquetas Galán, Rocío. "Los soportes de Tela" in <em>Técnicas y Materiales de la Pintura Española en Los Siglos de Oro</em><em>.</em> Madrid (?): Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia del Arte Hispánico, 2002.</p><p>Križnar, Anabelle et al. “A comparison of pigments applied in an original painting by El Greco and in a copy by an anonymous follower.” In <em>e-PRESERVATION 8</em> (2011): 49-54.</p><p>Griswold, Susanna P. “Two Paintings by El Greco: Saint Martin and the Beggar. Analysis and Comparison.” In <em>Studies in the History of Art, Monograph Series</em> II 41. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1993, 133-151.</p><p>McKim-Smith, Gridley et al. “A Note on Reading El Greco’s Revisions: a Group of Paintings of the Holy Family.” In <em>Studies in the History of Art</em> 18 (1985): 67-77.</p><p>Garrido, María del Carmen and José María Cabrera. “Estudio Técnico Comparativo de Dos Sagradas Familias del Greco.” In <em>Boletín del Museo del Prado III</em>, 8 (May-August 1982): 93-101.</p><p>Fúster Sabater, María Dolores. “Estudio y Tratamiento de una Tabla del Período Veneciano de El Greco. Nuevos Datos sobre su Técnica: el Color Azul.” In<em> Goya</em>, 277-278 (July-Oct. 2000): 196-206.</p><p>Marías, Fernando. <em>El Greco in Toledo.</em> London: Scala, 2001.</p><p>Turner, Nicholas. “A Proposal of El Greco as a Draftsman.” In <em>Master Drawings</em>, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Autumn 2007): 291-324.</p><p>Garrido, Carmen. "Reflexiones sobre la Técnica y la Evolución de El Greco." In <em>El Greco Últimas Expresiones, </em>edited by Enrique Pareja López, 67-79.<em> </em>Granada and Sevilla: Fundación Caja de Granada and Junta de Andalucía, 2001.</p><p>Garrido, María del Carmen. “ Un Dessin sous-jacent d’un tableau du Greco comme critere d’attribution des dessins isoles du meme auteur.” In <em>Le Dessin Sous-Jacent Dans la Peinture Colloque V, </em>edited by R. Van Schoute and D. Hollanders-Favart, 182-7. Louvain-La-Neuve: Universite Catholique de Louvain, 1983.</p><p>Massing, Anna. “The examination and restoration of El Greco’s <em>El Espolio.</em>” In <em>The First Ten Years. The examination and Conservation of Paintings 1977 to 1987. Bulletin No.1.</em> (1988): 76-81 + 85-6.   </p><p>Pacheco, Francisco. “El Arte de la Pintura.” In <em>La Teoría de la Pintura en el Siglo de Oro. </em>Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 1981.</p><p>Véliz, Zahira. <em>Artists’ Techniques in Golden Age Spain. </em>Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.   </p><p>Véliz, Zahira. "Episodes from a Pilgrimage." In <em>Personal Viewpoints. Thoughts about Painting Conservation</em>, edited by Mark Leonard, 95-103. Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 2003.</p>A step-by-step description of El Greco’s working method based on a technical study of The Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist (now located at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) that is likely a modello for a larger version at the Museo Nacional del Prado. The techniques and materials outlined include the preparation of a canvas support, sizing, a gypsum-glue ground, a colored oil ground, underpainting, oil painting, and varnishing.

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