1541 - 1614
Domenikos Theotokopoulos was born on the Greek island of Crete (then belonging to the Republic of Venice), but he spent most of his life in Spain where he was called El Greco (the Greek). He was an erudite man, whose taste for classical and contemporary literature seems to have developed in his youth. He studied under Tiziano in Venice and was also strongly influenced by Tintoretto, both masters of the Renaissance. Afterwards he moved to Rome, where Italian masters Rafael and Michelangelo evidently inspired his early works.
In 1577 he moved to Spain, where he designed altar-pieces for a church in Toledo (where many of his works are). A turning point in his art took place: he moved away from Italians, and nonstandard colors, spatial relationships and figural proportions became more marked in each painting. His devotional paintings reflect the fanatical zeal of his adopted country and his many portraits made him famous with many aristocrats. He submitted several paintings to King Philip II for approval but was denied the commission to fresco the walls of El Escorial. He did, however, work for Toledo Cathedral. In 1586 El Greco painted one of his greatest masterpieces, The Burial of Count Orgaz, for the Church of Santo Tomé in Toledo.
He developed an individualistic style and there is present in his canvases a mystical atmosphere, a feverish intensity dating from the 1590s until the time of his death. In the twentieth century his paintings have stimulated many modern paintings, and he is now recognized as one of the world's great artists.