The itinerary <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> has been successfully created. Now you can add in works from the Collection browser
<em>TITULOOBRA</em> added to <em>TITULORECORRIDO</em> itinerary

Whats-on <Back

El Greco’s Library

Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid 4/1/2014 - 6/29/2014

On El Greco’s death in Toledo on 7 April 1614, his possessions included 130 books that are partly known from two inventories compiled by his son Jorge Manuel Theotokopouli: one drawn up a few weeks after the painter’s death and another of 1621, compiled as proof of the possessions that Jorge Manuel was bringing to his second marriage. Based on the original documents of these two inventories, the exhibition is organised into five sections which together present its theoretical argument.

Greek forefathers and the classical heritage

This section reveals the importance of Greek culture on El Greco, who was always manifestly proud of his origins. This is evident in the copies he owned of classical texts by Homer, Appian and Xenophon and others on the life of Alexander the Great, a hero of Greek history and the paradigm of artistic patronage due to his support for Apelles, of whom El Greco may have considered himself a modern personification. Also notable in this section is the absence of books by Plato in the artist’s library and the contrasting presence of works by Aristotle.

Metamorphosis in Italy

The second section analyses the definitive transformation of El Greco’s painting following his time in Rome, Venice and other Italian cities. It was at this point and through an intensive process of self-education based on his knowledge of other artists’ work, his contacts with intellectuals and his own reading that he assimilated the prevailing practice and theory of art. At this point El Greco began to see painting as an autonomous discourse that went beyond the moralising depiction of subjects inspired by mythology, history and religion.

Painting as a speculative science

This section provides the exhibition’s central focus, given that El Greco believed that painting could imitate the invisible but also the impossible: in other words, he conceived of it as a means to explore the wonders of the real and to represent mythological subjects or sacred mysteries.

Vitruvius and the terms of architecture

While El Greco championed the hegemony of painting in relation to sculpture and architecture, at this period it was habitual to consider the latter the preeminent art form due to its traditional association with the liberal arts and because a knowledge of it was essential for becoming a “universal man”. This is how the artist must have seen himself: he designed the architectural settings for some of the altarpieces into which his paintings were set and also wrote an architectural treatise, the contents and whereabouts of which are now unknown. These issues explain why his library included several copies of Vitruvius’s treatise as well as copies of the most important architectural treatises published in his own day, such as those by Sebastiano Serlio, Vignola and Andrea Palladio.

The problem of religious imagery

The final section emphasises the fact that although much of El Greco’s output consists of religious paintings, he did not devote a single one of his reflections to this subject and only owned around eleven books on religion. Aside from his own religious practice, he must have used these books to ensure that his works were doctrinally correct and conformed to contemporary precepts of decorum.

Curators:
Javier Docampo, Head of Library, Archive and Documentation Department at the Museo Nacional del Prado, and José Riello, professor in the Department of Art History and Theory, Universidad Autónoma, Madrid

Access

Room C. Jerónimos Building

Opening time

Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm. Sunday and holidays from 10am to 7pm.

Organized by:
Museo Nacional del Prado
Biblioteca Nacional de España
Fundación El Greco 2014

Multimedia

Artworks

1

Inventory of El Greco´s possessions. 12 April and 7 July 1614

Juan Sánchez de Soria
Archivo Histórico Provincial Toledo

2

Inventory of Jorge Manuel Theotokopolous´s possessions. 7 August 1621 and 7 August 1622

Rodríguez de la Hoz
Archivo Histórico Provincial Toledo

3

Xenophon


Florence, Filippo Giunti, 1516
Museo del Greco, Toledo

4

On the Roman Civil and Foreign Wars

Appian of Alexandria
Venice 1551
Biblioteca Nacional de España

5

The Iliad


Homer
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

6

Physics

Aristotle
Biblioteca Nacional de España

7

Flavius Josephus

Basilea 1544
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

8

Parallel Lives

Plutarch
Basilea, 1533
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

9

The Campaigns of Alexander the Great

Flavius Arrianus
Ginebra, 1575
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

10

The Consolation of Philosophy

Boecio Boethius
Florencia, 1551
Museo Nacional del Prado

11

The Lives of the most excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects


Giorgio Vasari
Florencia 1568
Familia de Don Xavier de Salas

12

Description of Italy


Leandro Alberti
Biblioteca Nacional de España

13

History of Italy

Francesco Guicciardini
Venecia, 1574
Biblioteca Nacional de España

14

Petrarch

Venice, 1539
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

15

Orlando furioso

Ludovico Ariosto
Venice, 1568
Biblioteca Fundación Lázaro Galdiano

16

Amadis

Bernardo Tasso
Venice, 1560
Biblioteca Nacional de España

17

Ten Dialogues on Rhetoric

Francesco Patrizi
Venice, 1562
Biblioteca Nacional de España

18

Treatise on the Art of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture


Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo
Milan, 1585
Museo Nacional del Prado

19

Works: Arithmetic, Geometry, Cosmography and Clocks

Oronce Finé
Venice, 1587
Biblioteca Nacional de España

20

Practical and speculative Arithmetic

Juan Pérez de Moya
Madrid, 1598
Biblioteca Nacional de España

21

The Practice of Perspective

Daniele Barbaro
Venice, 1569
Museo Nacional del Prado

22

The two Rules of practical Perspective

Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola
Rome, 1583
Biblioteca Nacional de España

23

The Practice of Perspective

Lorenzo Sirigatti
Venice, 1596
Biblioteca Nacional de España

24

The Ten Books of Architecture


Vitruvius and Daniele Barbaro
Venice,1556
Biblioteca Nacional de España

25

Letter from El Greco to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese


Rome, July 6 1572
Archivio di Stato di Parma

26

The first Book [-fifth] of Architecture

Sebastiano Serlio
Venice, 1566
Biblioteca Nacional de España

27

Commentaries on Vitruvius´s Ten Books of Architecture


Vitruvius and Guillaume Philander
Lyon, 1552
Museo Nacional del Prado

28

The Ten Books of Architecture

Leon Battista Alberti after Francisco Lozano (?)
Madrid, 1582
Museo Nacional del Prado

29

Book on Architecture with Reproductions of some of the notable Antiquities in Rome

Antonio Labacco
Museo Nacional del Prado

30

Third and Fourth Books of Architecture

Sebastiano Serlio after Francisco Villalpando
Toledo, 1552
Museo Nacional del Prado

31

The Four Books of Architecture

Andrea Palladio
Venice, 1570
Museo Nacional del Prado

32

Rule of the Five Orders of Architecture

Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola
Rome, 1562
Museo Nacional del Prado

33

Rule of the Five Orders of Architecture

Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola after Patricio Cajés
Madrid, 1593
Museo Nacional del Prado

34

Theatre of Instruments and Mathematical and Mechanical Figures

Jacques Besson
Lyon, 1602
Museo Nacional del Prado

35

Cities of the Terrestrial Globe

Georg Braun
Cologne, 1593
Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid

36

Saint Justin the Martyr

Heidelberg, 1593
Biblioteca Nacional de España

37

Homilies

Saint Basil the Great
Louvain, 1532
Biblioteca Nacional de España

38

Prayers

Saint John Chrysostom
Basilea, 1552
Patrimonio Nacional. Biblioteca del Palacio Real de Madrid

39

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

Florence, 1516
Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid

40

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles


Venice, 1563
Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid

41

Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent


Rome, 1583
Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid

42

The Flowering of the Saints: lives of remarkable saints and outstandingly virtuous men

Alonso de Villegas
Toledo, 1589

43

Boy blowing on an Ember


El Greco
Oil on canvas, 61 x 50,8 cm
ca. 1570 - 1572
Colección Colomer

45

Antonio de Covarrubias y Leiva

El Greco
Oil on canvas, 67 x 57 cm
ca. 1600
Museo del Greco Toledo

46

The Incarnation

Cornelis Cort after Titian
Burin, 600 x 400 mm
1566
Biblioteca Nacional de España

47

The Pentecost

Cornelis Cort after Giorgio Vasari
Burin, 465 x 290 mm
1574
The British Museum

48

The Baptism of Christ

Cornelis Cort según Francesco Salviati

Burin, 297 x 204 mm

1575

Museo Nacional del Prado

49

The Laocoön

Giovanni Battista Fontana
Etching, 300 x 438 mm
1560 - 1579
The British Museum

50

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Cornelis Cort after Taddeo Zuccaro
Burin, 428 x 290 mm
1567
The British Museum

51

Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata


Cornelis Cort after Girolamo Muziano
Etching and burin, 43 x 30 cm
1568
Biblioteca Nacional de España

52

General perspective of the Monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial

Pedro Perret según Juan de Herrera

Etching and burin, 562 x 857 mm

1587

Museo Nacional del Prado

55

The Coronation of the Virgin

Alberto Durero

Entalladura, 290 x 208 mm

1510

Biblioteca Nacional de España

56

The Holy Trinity

Alberto Durero

Entalladura, 399 x 285 mm

1511

The British Museum

Print on demand

Print artworks available in our catalogue in high quality and your preferred size and finish.

Image archive

Request artworks available in our catalogue in digital format.

Up