Arts & Culture

View of Toledo

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, Candia 1540/41–1614 Toledo)29.100.6

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

El Greco shows Toledo from the north, but includes only the easternmost portion. This partial view would have excluded the cathedral, which he therefore imaginatively moved to the left of the dominant Alcázar (royal palace). A string of buildings descends a steep hill to the Roman Alcántara bridge, while on the other side of the Tagus is shown the Castle of San Servando. Another cluster of buildings is shown on a cloud-like form below the castle. The painting belongs to the tradition of emblematic city views. As with El Greco's finest portraits, its approach is interpretive rather than documentary: it seeks to portray the essence of the city rather than to document its actual appearance. In Aristotelean terms, it substitutes poetic for historic truth. The picture was in El Greco's studio at his death and was later purchased by Pedro Laso de la Vega, the Conde de Arcos—a major collector who owned at least seven paintings by El Greco (possibly including the Museum's "Portrait of a Cardinal").

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  • Title: View of Toledo
  • Date Created: 29.100.6
  • Physical Dimensions: w1086 x h1213 mm
  • Type: Paintings
  • External Link: MMA
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • provenance extent: Complete
  • provenance: ?the artist, Toledo (until d. 1614; posthumous inv., 1614, as one of "dos paises de Toledo"); ?his son, Jorge Manuel (1614–at least 1621; inv., 1621, as one of "dos Paises de Toledo, de bara y terzia en quadrado" [about 43 3/4 x 43 3/4 in.]); ?Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, Toledo (inv., 1629, as "un pais de Toledo acia la puente de Alcantara"); ?Pedro Laso de la Vega, 1st Conde de los Arcos, 2nd Conde de Añover; ?his son, Luis Laso de la Vega, 3rd Conde de Añover (until d. 1632; posthumous inv., 1632); ?his son, Pedro Laso de la Vega, 2nd Conde de Arcos, 4th Conde de Añover, casa y forteleza de la villa de Batres, near Madrid (inv., 1639); Condessa de Añover y Castañeda, Oñate Palace, Madrid; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1907–9; bought from Ricardo de Madrazo (their agent in Spain); sold for Fr 70,000 to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1909–d. 1929)
  • medium extent: Complete
  • inscription extent: Complete
  • inscription: Signed (lower right, in Greek): Domenikos Theotokopoulos / made this
  • description extent: Complete
  • credit line extent: Complete
  • credit line: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
  • Artist: El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, Candia 1540/41–1614 Toledo)

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