Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara (1541–1609)

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Greek

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 619

El Greco probably painted Fernando Niño de Guevara in the spring of 1600, when the cardinal was in Toledo with King Philip III and members of the Madrid court. From his time in Venice and Rome, El Greco would have been familiar with Titian’s psychologically charged portraits. He has intensified his sitter’s inner life through animated brushwork, a reduced palette, and the cardinal’s frontal gaze. The angularity of the garment as it falls to the floor and the tension of the man’s left hand suggest an electricity held in check. In 1599 Niño de Guevara became inquisitor general of Spain. He resigned in 1602 and served the rest of his life as archbishop of Seville. Beginning in 1906, French and German publications on El Greco regularly identified this as among the artist’s greatest portraits.

Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara (1541–1609), El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, Iráklion (Candia) 1541–1614 Toledo), Oil on canvas

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