This painting is an early-seventeenth-century, reduced workshop replica of the figure of the apostle that appears in a larger devotional canvas by El Greco, Saint Andrew and Saint Francis (Prado, Madrid). Andrew and his brother, the apostle Peter, were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. The first to follow Christ, Andrew is said to have preached in Scythia, Asia Minor, and Greece, where he was reportedly martyred on an x-shaped cross at the hands of the Roman governor.
This painting was most likely produced by an assistant in El Greco’s workshop, perhaps about 1610. The apostle and his distinctive X-shaped cross on which he was crucified repeat, with minor changes, the figure and cross filling the left half of El Greco’s signed canvas, Saint Andrew and Saint Francis, in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. That picture (167 x 113 cm) is nearly two feet taller than the Museum’s painting, where the figure of Saint Andrew is considerably smaller in scale. This kind of replica, whether reduced or not, was often made in El Greco’s workshop, evidently on speculation.
It is not clear why the Apostle Andrew and St. Francis of Assisi are depicted together in the Prado painting. In the late 1570s Juan Fernández Navarrete (1526–1579) painted a series of large, full-length pictures of paired saints for the monastery of El Escorial, with more predictable combinations, such as Saints Peter and Paul, Saint John the Evangelist with Saint Matthew, and Saint James the Greater with Saint Andrew (who reads a large book). El Greco shows Saint John the Evangelist standing next to Saint John the Baptist in a small canvas of about 1600–1610 (Museo del Prado, Madrid), and slightly smaller workshop pictures repeat each of those saints separately (Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, and Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia). It has been suggested plausibly (in Ruiz Gómez 2007, p. 110) that the unexpected pairing of Saint Andrew with Saint Francis of Assisi, who lived eleven centuries later, may reflect a special devotion on the part of an unknown patron. In any event, the New York canvas is likely to have been an independent picture and not part of a series (an apostolado).
In the Prado picture the saints appear to be in solemn conversation, which is reflected in the rhetorical gesture and turn of the head in the Museum’s Saint Andrew. There is some change in the rendering of the eyes which might be taken to suggest contemplation rather than explication. However, many of El Greco’s half-length pictures of single Apostles combine a demonstrative gesture with a glance downward or to the side.
The painting in Madrid is of exceptional quality, with a sense of structure, volume, texture, and natural light in the Apostle’s face, which is framed by wispy hair conjured from remarkably free strokes and jabs of the brush. Throughout the present picture these qualities of execution are repeated in schematic form. The process of simplification is perhaps most obvious in the landscape and sky, where the topography and clouds no longer hint at spatial recession. Based on these shortcomings, Wethey (1962) assumed mistakenly that the canvas had been "liberally retouched by a modern restorer," but since the 1980s scholars such as Jonathan Brown (in a letter to the Museum dated December 12, 1983) and Ruiz Gómez (2007) have described the painting as a typical workshop product, revealing little or no trace of the master’s hand.
[Walter Liedtke 2014]
Rafael García, Madrid (in 1907); Guillermo Vogel, Madrid and Munich (1910–at least 1931; lent to Alte Pinakothek, Munich, September–November 1928, where it was never exhibited); ?[Paul Lindpaintner, Berlin]; Kurt and Margit Leimer von Opel, Partenkirchen, Germany (until 1953; sold to Knoedler and Pinakos, Inc.); [Knoedler, New York, and Pinakos, Inc. (Rudolf J. Heinemann), 1953–54; sold to Clark]; Stephen C. Clark, New York (1954–d. 1960)
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "A Collectors Taste: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Clark," January 12–30, 1954, no. 1.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 1–September 1, 1958, no. 75 (lent by Stephen C. Clark).
Ponce, Puerto Rico. Museo de Arte de Ponce. "Inaugural Exhibition," 1965–66, no catalogue.
Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 74.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 74.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings: The Clark Brothers Collect," May 22–August 19, 2007, no. 147.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "El Greco in New York," November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015, no catalogue.
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Madrid, 1908, vol. 1, p. 569, no. 104, claims the painting had earlier been converted into a Saint John the Evangelist; as in the collection of Rafael García.
Místicos de "El Greco". Madrid, [1910?], p. 56, ill., as in the collection of G[uillermo]. Vogel, Madrid.
August L. Mayer. Dominico Theotocopuli, El Greco. Munich, 1926, pp. 23, no. 175, 30, ill., as probably part of a series with 181a, Saint James Major as a Pilgrim [now Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo]; 190a, Saint John the Baptist, attributed to Jorge Manuel [formerly García collection, Madrid]; 194a, Saint John the Evangelist [now Museo Cerralbo, Madrid]; and 216, Saint Thomas [called Saint Judas Thaddeus by Wethey, now Clowes Foundation, Indianapolis]; believes this series may not be entirely by El Greco's hand; dates our picture 1592–97; erroneously places it in the Zuloaga collection, Zumaya.
Frank Rutter. El Greco (1541–1614). New York, , p. 99, no. 87, pl. 68, attributes it to El Greco; dates it about 1596; as in the collection of W[ilhelm]. Vogel, Munich.
M. Legendre and A. Hartmann. Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco. Paris, 1937, pp. 311, 502, ill., dates it 1592–97; erroneously cited as in the collection of Ignacio Zuloaga, Zumaya.
Enrique Lafuente. "El Greco: Some Recent Discoveries." Burlington Magazine 87 (December 1945), p. 294, cites our painting and the version from the collection of Diego Cánovas, Madrid as variants of the "Saint Andrew and Saint Francis" [Prado, Madrid]; notes that at least one of these variants is certainly not by El Greco.
José Camón Aznar. Dominico Greco. Madrid, 1950, vol. 1, p. 596, ill.; vol. 2, p. 1376, no. 400, erroneously labeled as in the Zuloaga collection, Zumaya; believes this may be the painting listed in Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory as a Saint Andrew "de bara y terzia de alto y dos terzias de ancho" [about 44 x 22 in.].
A Collector's Taste: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Clark. Exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. New York, 1954, p. 218, no. 1, pl. 1, erroneously described as taken to Berlin soon after 1926 by [the dealer] Lindpaintner, where it was acquired by Guillermo Vogel; cite most recent owner as Frau Margit Leimer von Opel, Munich.
Halldor Soehner. "Greco in Spanien." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 8 (1957), pp. 165, 167, ill., dates it 1599–1600; calls it a possible replica of the original.
Karl Ipser. El Greco, der Maler des christlichen Weltbildes. Braunschweig, 1960, p. 361.
Stephen C. Clark Art Collection and House. New York, 1961, unpaginated, no. 17, ill. (color).
Harold E. Wethey. El Greco and His School. Princeton, 1962, vol. 1, p. 45, fig. 112; vol. 2, pp. 109–10, no. 196, p. 214, attributes it to El Greco but observes that it has been "liberally retouched by a modern restorer"; dates it 1590–95 and finds the drapery characteristic of El Greco at this time; identifies the prototype for all his full-length images of Saint Andrew as "Saint Andrew and Saint Francis" (Prado, Madrid); erroneously mentions it as in the von Nemes collection in 1928.
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Ed. Natalia Cossío de Jiménez. definitive ed. Barcelona, 1972, p. 373, no. 160.
Katharine Baetjer. "El Greco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 39 (Summer 1981), p. 37, ill. (color), calls it a "reduced replica" of the apostle as he appears in the Prado picture.
Jonathan Brown. Letter. December 12, 1983, calls it a "typical product of [El Greco's] workshop".
George R. Allen. El Greco: Two Studies. Philadelphia, 1984, p. 21, pl. 6A, calls it a "a studio piece but nevertheless typical of El Greco's work".
István Barkóczi. "Marczell von Nemes as Collector of El Greco Paintings." El Greco of Crete: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held on the Occasion of the 450th Anniversary of the Artist's Birth. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Iráklion, Crete, 1995, pp. 564, 565, ill., dates it 1590–95.
Katharine Baetjer. "Pollock Interprets the Old Masters: Sketchbooks I and II." The Jackson Pollock Sketchbooks in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997 [vol. 4], pp. 50–51, 58, ill., illustrates a drawing (II:10r) by Pollock based on this painting.
Leticia Ruiz Gómez. El Greco y la pintura española del Renacimiento. [Madrid], 2001, p. 96, comments on the similarity between the figure of Saint Andrew in our painting and the same figure in El Greco's "Saint Andrew and Saint Francis" (Prado, Madrid).
Sarah Lees inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, pp. 315, 328, no. 147, fig. 285.
Gilbert T. Vincent and Sarah Lees inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, p. 186.
Leticia Ruiz Gómez. El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado: catálogo razonado. Madrid, 2007, p. 113, as painted with ample participation of the workshop.
This picture is a repetition of the Saint Andrew in El Greco's painting Saint Andrew and Saint Francis in the Prado, no. 2819, which is dated about 1590–95 by Wethey (1962). It differs from the "Apostolados" in the Toledo Cathedral, as well as the other Apostle series [see Ptgs. Dept. Archives], in which St. Andrew is depicted in profile to the left, holding the cross in his right hand (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
Only two other full-length representations of Saint Andrew are recorded: one in the Zuloaga collection in Zumaya, Spain, attributed by Wethey (no. X–232) to a follower of El Greco and dated in the middle of the seventeenth century; and a painting, formerly in the possession of Diego Cánovas in Madrid, attributed to the Spanish school and dated about 1650 (Wethey, no. X–233).