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El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Greek

Not on view

This picture and a smaller version on wood (Philadelphia Museum of Art) were made near the end of the artist’s stay in Rome (1570–75), where he made a specialty of painting small works for private devotion. El Greco’s ambition drove him to emulate famous works of art before he had quite mastered such basics as anatomy (an obvious problem in the figure of Saint John) and the convincing placement of forms in space. While the composition is based on two very different Pietàs by Michelangelo that El Greco knew through engravings, the Virgin’s expression of grief reflects his study of the celebrated ancient statue the Laocoön.

Pietà, El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, Iráklion (Candia) 1541–1614 Toledo), Oil on canvas

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