Dominikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco)

Dominikos Theotokopoulos or El Greco

Dominikos Theotokopoulos was born in 1541 either in Fodele, a small village near Heraklion city or in Heraklion, which was by that time called Chandax. His life remains obscure for historians. Thetokopoulos lived and worked mostly in Spain, where he became famous under the nickname El Greco. He is considered one of the most important Cretan and Greek personages ever as since the 20th century his work has been estimated as of great importance.

At the age of 20 Theotokopoulos traveled to Venice, where he was trained in painting by Titian. In 1570 he moved to Rome and he was already a famous painter. By that time he didn’t hesitate to dismiss Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and state that he could paint over the work.

Later he moved to Spain. In 1577 he was already in Toledo, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo he was considered the greatest painter in Spain. Theotokopoulos always signed his works in Greek and noted "Cretan".

In Spain Theotokopoulos was far from the Italian influence and produced original masterpieces. One of his best known works is "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" (1587), a unique masterpiece which is considered a very important painting until today. Among his 500 paintings, he painted many portraits. In his portraits, Thetokopoulos tried to capture and portray the soul of the persons, along with realism.

Theotokopoulos became rich and lived a prosperous life. He helped financially many Greeks and many people that needed help. He was very liberal in his creations and he went beyond traditional rules.

Dominikos Theotokopoulos is honored in Greece as a very important person. There is a bust in a park named after him in Heraklion city center. In Fodele village there is a commemorative plaque, gift by the University of Valladolid to honor his birthplace. In Greece Thetokopoulos’ paintings are exhibited in National Art Gallery (Ethniki Pinakthiki) and Benaki Museum.

Thetokopoulos died in Toledo in 1614.