Inventory number
P00809
Author
El Greco
Title
The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest
Chronology
Ca. 1580
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimensions
74 cm x 58 cm
School
Spanish
Theme
Portrait. Civil
On display
No
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Felipe V, Quinta of the Duke of Arco in El Pardo (Madrid), “decimotercia pieza de verano”, 1745, [¿nº 411?]; Quinta of the Duke of Arco, “pieza duodécima”, 1794, ¿nº 366?).

A portrait of an unidentified person wearing a black suit with lace collar and cuffs and a pendant and sword that indicate he is a gentleman. This is one of the masterpieces of the Spanish Renaissance and the best known of El Greco’s works.

Painted during the artist’s first years in Toledo, Gentleman with his Hand on his Chest is remarkable for the expressive gaze its sitter directs at the viewer, and the naturalness of the hand’s gesture.

There are many hypotheses about the identity of the sitter and the significance of the painting. Some see his gesture as a symbol of repentance, or of a vow and, while there are reasonable doubts, he could be identified as Juan de Silva y Ribera III, Marquis of Montemayor and mayor of the Alcazar of Toledo.

This work comes from the country home of the Duke of Arco in El Pardo (Madrid).

 

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