Vicente López Portaña
Vicente López Portaña, OIC was a Spanish painter, considered one of the best portrait painters of his time. Vicente López Portaña was born in Valencia on September 19, 1772, his parents were Manuela Portaña Meer. Vicente López began formally studying painting in Valencia at the age of thirteen, he was a disciple of father Antonio de Villanueva, a Franciscan friar, he studied at the Academy of San Carlos in his native city, he was seventeen when he won first prize in drawing and coloring receiving a scholarship to study in the prestigious Academia Real de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. For the following three years in Madrid, he apprenticed with the Valencian painter, Mariano Salvador Maella. Vicente López returned to Valencia in 1794 and subsequently became vice-director of painting at the Academy where he had studied as a boy. In 1795 he married Maria Piquer, they had two sons: Bernardo and Luis, who were painters, following their father’s style but with little accomplishments. In 1801 López was named President of the Academy of San Carlos.
When king Charles IV visited the city of Turia in 1802, the king appointed him an honorary court painter at the same time he gave him some commissions that he executed successfully. He was well known and regarded when in 1814 López was called to the court of Ferdinand VII, the Spanish king, who appointed him official court painter and received a royal appointment. Shortly thereafter he succeeded Goya as Royal Court Painter during the reign of Ferdinand VII, who appointed him as drawing teacher of his second wife, Maria Isabella of Portugal, of his third wife, Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony. In 1817 he was named President of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Vicente López was a prolific painter executing many religious, allegorical and mythological scenes, but he specialized in portraits. During his long career he painted nearly every notable person in Spain during the first half of the 1800s. In 1826, López painted a portrait of Francisco Goya when the famous master visited the court from Bordeaux, where the Aragonese painter was living.
Goya was 80 and would die two years later. It was said that Goya got bored posing for his colleague, meticulous and a stickler for detail, that for this reason the portrait is inferior to others by López. However, for this precise reason, because of the strong personality of the model this is one of López's most lively and best-known works. Vicente López spent the remainder of his life in Madrid painting portraits of statesmen and other important figures, as well as dramatic and emotional religious subjects; when he died, in Madrid, he was court painter of Queen Isabella II. He was seventy eight years old. Vicente López was a Neo-classicist painter but he retained certain traces of the Rococo style, he had the Neo-classical emphasis on masterly drawing, though with less rigidity. López is considered the best Spanish painter of his time, second only to Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. One of his rivals was Agustín Esteve Marqués. Lopez’s style is dominated by the influence of Anton Raphael Mengs and the Academicism, he was unaffected by romanticism popular at the end of his career.
López was skilled in drawing and using the brush, but he did not achieve the level of genius that Goya did. His best works are his drawings and small-scale paintings. Vicente López Portaña. Su vida, su arte, su obra. by José Luis Diez García, Alfonso E Pérez Sánchez - 1994Vicente López by E. M Aguilera Madrazo, Pedro de. Catálogo Descriptivo e Histórico del Museo del Prado de Madrid. Calle del Duque de Osuna #3. Pp. 432–433. Media related to Vicente López y Portaña at Wikimedia Commons
Gonzalo Pérez, or Gonçal Peris Sarrià, was a Valencian painter of the first half of the 15th century. His life is scarcely documented, he executed altarpieces and devotional paintings in his hometown, Valencia, in the late Gothic style from 1380 and 1451. He worked for altarpiece in Cuenca, Murcia, Ródenas, Burgo de Osma or Puertomingalvo. Works include: Altarpiece of Saints Ursula and Anthony for the Portaceli Monastery, now in the Museu de Belles Arts de Valencia, Spain. Altarpiece of Saint Barbara, conserved at Spain. Panel of St Marta and St Clement, 1412, in the museum of Valencia Cathedral, Spain. Altarpiece of Santa María de Gracia de la capilla del Hospital Poma de Puertomingalvo, now in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USA. Panel of Virgin and Child Enthroned with Cardinal Alsonso Borja, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA. Panel of Saint Bartholomew or San Bartolomé contra el demonio, 1412–1451, now in the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA. Panel of Madonna and Child on a Throne, 1410-1420, now in the Walters Art Museum, Maryland, USA.
Panel of Santo Domingo de Guzman y 1405, now in the Museo del Prado, Spain. Panel of Coronation of the Virgin with the Trinity, 1400, altarpiece in the church at Rubielos de Mora, now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA. Altarpiece of "la vida de Maria", 1420, Rubielos de Mora, Spain. Panel of La pietà, 1430, Louvre France. St Michael Defeating the Devil in the National Gallery of Scotland, UK. Altarpiece of Sant Michael of Murcia Cathedral, Spain. Panel La Vierge et l'Enfant entourés d'anges of the altarpiece of Burgo de Osma Cathedral, now in the Louvre Museum, France. Biography at the National Gallery of Scotland website, UK. Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin or Retablo de Santa María de Gracia de la capilla del Hospital Poma de Puertomingalvo The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USA. Saint Bartholomew The Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA. Santo Domingo de Guzman y Spain. La Vierge et l'Enfant entourés d'anges France. Virgin and Child Enthroned with Cardinal Alsonso Borja Museum of Boston.
Madonna and Child on a Throne Walters Art Museum. Cleveland Museum of Art
Pieter Coecke van Aelst
Pieter Coecke van Aelst or Pieter Coecke van Aelst the Elder was a Flemish painter, architect and designer of woodcuts, goldsmith's work, stained glass and tapestries. His principal subjects were Christian religious themes, he was appointed court painter to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Coecke van Aelst was a polyglot, he published translations into Flemish and German of Ancient Roman and modern Italian architectural treatises. These publications played a pivotal role in the dissemination of Renaissance ideas in Northern Europe, they contributed to the transition in Northern Europe from the late Gothic style prevalent towards a modern'antique-oriented' architecture. Pieter Coecke van Aelst was the son of the Deputy Mayor of Aalst; the early Flemish biographer Karel van Mander wrote in his Schilder-boeck published in 1604 that Coecke van Aelst studied under Bernard van Orley, a leading Renaissance painter based in Brussels. There are no documents that prove this apprenticeship but there are strong stylistic similarities between the styles of the two artists.
According to Karel van Mander, Pieter Coecke van Aelst studied in Italy where in Rome he made drawings after Classical sculpture and architecture. Although there is no firm evidence that Coecke van Aelst travelled to Italy, stylistic evidence supports the notion that he travelled to Italy; the Italian influence could, however be attributed to the fact that Raphael’s tapestry cartoons were available in Brussels, where they were used for the manufacture of tapestries around 1516. However, as Coecke van Aelst was familiar with Raphael's fresco of the Triumph of Galatea located in the Villa Farnesina in Rome, it seems he did in fact travel to Italy. Pieter Coecke van Aelst married twice, he married his first wife Anna van Dornicke in 1525 shortly after his move to Antwerp. Anna was the daughter of Jan Mertens van Dornicke, one of the most successful painters working in Antwerp, his father in law was his teacher. Coecke van Aelst took over his father-in-law's workshop after the latter's death in 1527.
There were two children from this first marriage and Pieter II. The latter was a painter. After the death of his first wife before 1529, Coecke van Aelst had an affair with Anthonette van der Sandt; the pair never married but had a daughter, at least one son, Pauwel who became a painter. Coecke van Aelst is recorded joining the local Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp in 1527. In 1533, he travelled to Constantinople where he stayed for one year during which he tried to convince the Turkish sultan to give him commissions for tapestries; this mission failed to generate any commissions from the sultan. Coecke made many drawings during his stay in Turkey including of the buildings and the indigenous flora, he seems to have retained from this trip an abiding interest in the accurate rendering of nature that gave his tapestries an added dimension. The drawings which Coecke van Aelst made during his stay in Turkey were posthumously published by his widow under the title Ces moeurs et fachons de faire de Turcz avecq les regions y appertenantes ont este au vif contrefaictez.
Upon his return to Antwerp in 1534, Coecke van Aelst produced designs for a large-scale figure, called'Druon Antigoon' or the'Giant of Antwerp' of which the head in papier-maché still survives. The giant made its premiere many years in 1549 at the occasion of the Joyous entry into Antwerp of Prince Philip; the giant became a regular fixture in public processions in Antwerp until the 20th century. In the year 1537 Coecke van Aelst was elected a dean of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke, he received a stipend from the Antwerp city government. Around this time Coecke van Aelst received major commissions for the design of stained-glass windows including for the Antwerp Cathedral. Around 1538–1539 Coecke van Aelst married for the second time, his second wife Mayken Verhulst was from Mechelen and a painter of miniatures. The couple had three children, two daughters called a son named Pauwel; the prominent painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder married Coecke van Aelst's daughter Maria. Karel van Mander has asserted that Coecke van Aelst's second wife was the first teacher of her grandchildren, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Through his marriage with Mayken Verhulst, Pieter Coecke became a brother-in-law of the prominent printmaker and publisher Hubertus Goltzius who had married Mayken's sister Elisabeth. There is speculation that Coecke set up a second workshop in Brussels but there is no evidence for this. Coecke van Aelst was appointed court painter to Charles V only a few months prior to his death. Coecke was in Brussels in 1550; as his two youngest children died at the same time, it is possible that all three family members were victims of a contagious epidemic. His students included leading painters such as Gillis van Coninxloo, Willem Key, Hans Vredeman de Vries, Michiel Coxcie, Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Pieter Coecke van Aelst was a versatile artist and a master designer who devised projects across a wide range of different media, including panel paintings, prints, stained glass and goldsmith's work. No signed and few reliably documented paintings by Coecke van Aelst have survived, his drawings are an important witness to his skills as they are the only body of works by the artist, which are autograph.
Forty drawings are regarded as autograph
Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio whose formal name was Bernardino di Betto known as Benetto di Biagio or Sordicchio, was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. Born in Perugia in 1454 and dying in Siena in 1513, Pintoricchio acquired his nickname, because of his small stature, he used it to sign some of his 15th and 16th century artworks. Pinturicchio was born the son of Betto di Blagio, in Perugia. In his career, he may have trained under lesser known Perugian painters such as Bonfigli and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. According to Vasari, Pinturicchio was a paid assistant of Perugino; the works of the Perugian Renaissance school are similar. In the execution of large frescoes and assistants had a large share in the work, either in enlarging the master's sketch to the full-sized cartoon, in transferring the cartoon to the wall, or in painting backgrounds or accessories, his assignment in Rome, to decorate the Sistine Chapel, was an experience fraught with learning from prominent artists of the time, including: Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietro Vanucci, Luca Signorelli.
The Sistine Chapel was where it is believed that Pinturicchio was collaborating with Perugino to some extent. After assisting Perugino in his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Pinturicchio was employed by various members of the Della Rovere family to decorate the Semi-Gods Ceiling of Palazzo dei Penitenzieri and a series of chapels in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, where he appears to have worked from 1484, or earlier, to 1492. "Would be, if it had been left with all its original decorations, one of the finest monuments to Pintoricchio’s art in Italy. A great deal still remains, but much has been swept away", sums up his work in that basilica Evelyn March Phillipps; the earliest of his works is an altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds, in the Della Rovere Chapel, the first chapel on the south, built by Cardinal Domenico della Rovere. In the lunettes under the vault Pinturicchio painted small scenes from the life of St Jerome; the polychrome grotesque wall decoration on yellow-gold background were inspired by the paintings of the Domus Aurea, belong the earliest and highest quality of their kind in Rome.
The frescos which he painted in the Cybo Chapel, built by Cardinal Lorenzo Cybo de Mari in the beginning of the 16th century, were destroyed in 1682, when the chapel was rebuilt by Cardinal Alderano Cybo. The old fresco of the Virgin and the Child by Pinturicchio was detached from the wall and sent by the cardinal to Massa in 1687; the fragment was re-used as the altarpiece of the Ducal Chapel of the Cathedral of Massa. The third chapel on the south is that of Girolamo Basso della Rovere, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, bishop of Recanati; the Basso Della Rovere Chapel contains a fine altarpiece of the Madonna enthroned between Four Saints, on the east side a nobly composed fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin. The vault and its lunettes are richly decorated with small pictures of the Life of the Virgin, surrounded by graceful arabesques. In the Costa Chapel, Pinturicchio or one of his helpers painted the Four Latin Doctors in the lunettes of the vault. Most of these frescoes are injured by moisture and have suffered little from restoration.
The last paintings completed by Pinturicchio in this church are found on the vault behind the choir, where he painted decorative frescoes, with main lines arranged to suit their surroundings in a skilful way. In the centre is an octagonal panel of the Coronation of the Virgin, surrounding it, are medallions of the Four Evangelists; the spaces between them are filled by reclining figures of the Four Sibyls. On each pendentive is a figure of one of the Four Doctors enthroned under a niched canopy; the bands which separate these pictures have elaborate arabesques on a gold ground, the whole is painted with broad and effective touches telling when seen from a considerable distance below. No finer specimen of the decoration of a simple quadripartite vault can be seen anywhere. In 1492, Pinturicchio was summoned to Orvieto Cathedral, he was employed by Pope Alexander VI to decorate a completed suite of six rooms, the Borgia Apartments in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican. These rooms now form part of the Vatican Library, five still retain a series of Pinturicchio frescoes.
The Umbrian painter worked in these rooms till around 1494, assisted by his pupils, not without interruption. It was not until Pope Alexander VI died that Pinturicchio left Rome for Umbria, leaving much of the work in Rome to be completed by Michelangelo and company, his other chief frescoes in Rome, still existing in good condition, are in the Bufalini Chapel in the southwest sector of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli executed around 1484-1486. On the altar wall is a grand painting of St. Bernardino of Siena between two other saints, crowned by angels. One group of three females, the central figure with a child at her breast, recalls the grace of Raphael's second manner; the composition of the main group round the saint's corpse appears to have been suggested by Giotto's painting of St
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian artist famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric "prisons". Piranesi was born in Mogliano Veneto, near Treviso part of the Republic of Venice, his father was a stonemason. His brother Andrea introduced him to Latin language and the ancient civilization, he was apprenticed under his uncle, Matteo Lucchesi, a leading architect in Magistrato delle Acque, the state organization responsible for engineering and restoring historical buildings. From 1740, he had an opportunity to work in Rome as a draughtsman for Marco Foscarini, the Venetian ambassador of the new Pope Benedict XIV, he resided in the Palazzo Venezia and studied under Giuseppe Vasi, who introduced him to the art of etching and engraving of the city and its monuments. Giuseppe Vasi found. According to Legrand, Vasi told Piranesi that "you are too much of a painter, my friend, to be an engraver." After his studies with Vasi, he collaborated with pupils of the French Academy in Rome to produce a series of vedute of the city.
From 1743 to 1747 he sojourned in Venice where, according to some sources, he visited Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a leading artist in Venice. It was Tiepolo who expanded the restrictive conventions of reproductive and antiquarian engravings, he returned to Rome, where he opened a workshop in Via del Corso. In 1748 -- 1774 he created a long series of vedute of the city. In the meantime Piranesi devoted himself to the measurement of many of the ancient edifices: this led to the publication of Le Antichità Romane de' tempo della prima Repubblica e dei primi imperatori. In 1761 he opened a printing facility of his own. In 1762 the Campo Marzio dell'antica Roma collection of engravings was printed; the following year he was commissioned by Pope Clement XIII to restore the choir of San Giovanni in Laterano, but the work did not materialize. In 1764, one of Pope's nephews, Cardinal Rezzonico, appointed him to start his sole architectural works of importance, the restoration of the church of Santa Maria del Priorato in the Villa of the Knights of Malta, on Rome's Aventine Hill.
He combined certain ancient architectural elements and escutcheons, with a venetian whimsicality for the facade of the church and the walls of the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. This was the only time he expressed himself in actual stone. In 1767 he was made a knight of the Golden Spur, which enabled him henceforth to sign himself "Cav Piranesi". In 1769 his publication of a series of ingenious and sometimes bizarre designs for chimneypieces, as well as an original range of furniture pieces, established his place as a versatile and resourceful designer. In 1776 he created his best known work as a'restorer' of ancient sculpture, the Piranesi Vase, in 1777–78 he published Avanzi degli Edifici di Pesto, he died in Rome in 1778 after a long illness, was buried in the church he had helped restore, Santa Maria del Priorato. His tomb was designed by Giuseppi Angelini. Though the social structure by an aristocracy remained rigid and oppressive, Venice revived through the Grand Tour as the center of intellectual and international exchange in the eighteenth century.
The ideas of the Enlightenment stimulated theorists and artists all over Europe including Paris and London. New forms of artistic expression emerged: veduta and veduta ideata, topographical view, architectural fantasy, accurate renderings of ancient monuments assembled with imaginary compositions in response to the demand of increased visitors; the developing center of the Grand Tour was Rome. Rome became a new meeting place and intellectual capital of Europe for the leaders of a new movement in the arts; the city was attracting artists and architects from all over Europe beside the Grand Tourists and antiquarians. While many came through official institutions such as the French Academy, others came to see the new discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii. Coffee shops were frequent gathering places, most famously the Antico Caffè Greco, established 1760; the Caffe degli Inglesi opened several years at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, with wall paintings by Piranesi. With his own print workshop and museo of antiquities nearby, Piranesi was able to cultivate relationships in both places with wealthy buyers on the tour English.
The remains of Rome kindled Piranesi's enthusiasm. Informed by his experience in Venice and his study of the works of Marco Ricci and Giovanni Paolo Panini, he appreciated not only the engineering of the ancient buildings but the poetic aspects of the ruins, he was able to faithfully imitate the actual remains. His masterful skill at engraving introduced groups of vases, tombs that were absent in reality. A number of the Views are notable for depicting human figures whose poverty, apparent drunkenness, other visible flaws appear to echo the decay of the ruins; this is consistent with a familiar trope of Renaissance literature, in w
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter, the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV, one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period. In addition to numerous renditions of scenes of historical and cultural significance, he painted scores of portraits of the Spanish royal family, other notable European figures, commoners, culminating in the production of his masterpiece Las Meninas. From the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Velázquez's artwork was a model for the realist and impressionist painters, in particular Édouard Manet. Since that time, famous modern artists, including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon, have paid tribute to Velázquez by recreating several of his most famous works. Velázquez was born in Seville, the first child of João Rodrigues de Silva and Jerónima Velázquez, was baptized at the church of St. Peter in Seville on Sunday, June 6, 1599; the baptism most occurred a few days or weeks after his birth.
His paternal grandparents, Diogo da Silva and Maria Rodrigues, had moved to Seville from their native Portugal decades earlier. When Velázquez was offered knighthood in 1658, he claimed descent from the lesser nobility in order to qualify. Velázquez was educated by his parents to fear God and, intended for a learned profession, received good training in languages and philosophy. Influenced by many artists, he showed an early gift for art. Velázquez remained with him for one year, it was from Herrera that he learned to use brushes with long bristles. After leaving Herrera's studio when he was 12 years old, Velázquez began to serve as an apprentice under Francisco Pacheco, an artist and teacher in Seville. Though considered a dull, undistinguished painter, Pacheco sometimes expressed a simple, direct realism in contradiction to the style of Raphael that he was taught. Velázquez remained in Pacheco's school for five years, studying proportion and perspective and witnessing the trends in the literary and artistic circles of Seville.
By the early 1620s, his position and reputation were assured in Seville. On April 23, 1618, Velázquez married the daughter of his teacher, she bore him two daughters—his only known family. The elder, Francisca de Silva Velázquez y Pacheco, married painter Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo at the Church of Santiago in Madrid on August 21, 1633. Velázquez produced notable works during this time. Known for his compositions of amusing genre scenes called bodegones, such as Old Woman Frying Eggs. Christ in the House of Martha combines this bodegón type in a religious scene, his sacred subjects include Adoración de los Reyes and Jesús y los peregrinos de Emaús, both of which begin to express his more pointed and careful realism. Velázquez went to Madrid in the first half of April 1622, with letters of introduction to Don Juan de Fonseca, himself from Seville, chaplain to the King. At the request of Pacheco, Velázquez painted the portrait of the famous poet Luis de Góngora. Velázquez painted Góngora crowned with a laurel wreath, but painted over it at some unknown date.
It is possible that Velázquez stopped in Toledo on his way from Seville, on the advice of Pacheco, or back from Madrid on that of Góngora, a great admirer of El Greco, having composed a poem on the occasion of his death. In December 1622, Rodrigo de Villandrando, the king's favorite court painter, died. Don Juan de Fonseca conveyed to Velázquez the command to come to the court from the Count-Duke of Olivares, the powerful minister of Philip IV, he was offered 50 ducats to defray his expenses, he was accompanied by his father-in-law. Fonseca lodged the young painter in his own home and sat for a portrait himself, when completed, was conveyed to the royal palace. A portrait of the king was commissioned. On August 16, 1623, Philip IV sat for Velázquez. Completed in one day, the portrait was to have been no more than a head sketch, but both the king and Olivares were pleased. Olivares commanded Velázquez to move to Madrid, promising that no other painter would paint Philip's portrait and all other portraits of the king would be withdrawn from circulation.
In the following year, 1624, he received 300 ducats from the king to pay the cost of moving his family to Madrid, which became his home for the remainder of his life. Through the bust portrait of the king, painted in 1623, Velázquez secured admission to the royal service, with a salary of 20 ducats per month, besides medical attendance and payment for the pictures he might paint; the portrait was received with enthusiasm. It is now lost; the Museo del Prado, has two of Velázquez's portraits of the king in which the severity of the Seville period has disappeared and the tones are more delicate. The modeling is firm, recalling that of Antonio Mor, the Dutch portrait painter of Philip II, who exercised a considerable influence on the Spanish school. In the same year, the Prince of Wales arrived at the court of Spain. Records indicate that he sat for Velázquez. In September 1628, Peter Paul Rubens came to Madrid as an emissary from th
Doménikos Theotokópoulos, most known as El Greco, was a painter and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his Greek origin, the artist signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος, Doménikos Theotokópoulos adding the word Κρής Krēs, Cretan. El Greco was born in the Kingdom of Candia, at that time part of the Republic of Venice, the center of Post-Byzantine art, he trained and became a master within that tradition before traveling at age 26 to Venice, as other Greek artists had done. In 1570 he moved to Rome, where he executed a series of works. During his stay in Italy, El Greco enriched his style with elements of Mannerism and of the Venetian Renaissance taken from a number of great artists of the time, notably Tintoretto. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco produced his best-known paintings. El Greco's dramatic and expressionistic style was met with puzzlement by his contemporaries but found appreciation in the 20th century.
El Greco is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism, while his personality and works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis. El Greco has been characterized by modern scholars as an artist so individual that he belongs to no conventional school, he is best known for tortuously elongated figures and fantastic or phantasmagorical pigmentation, marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting. Born in 1541, in either the village of Fodele or Candia on Crete, El Greco was descended from a prosperous urban family, driven out of Chania to Candia after an uprising against the Catholic Venetians between 1526 and 1528. El Greco's father, Geórgios Theotokópoulos, was a tax collector. Nothing is known about his mother or his first wife Greek. El Greco's older brother, Manoússos Theotokópoulos, was a wealthy merchant and spent the last years of his life in El Greco's Toledo home. El Greco received his initial training as an icon painter of the Cretan school, a leading center of post-Byzantine art.
In addition to painting, he studied the classics of ancient Greece, the Latin classics also. Candia was a center for artistic activity where Eastern and Western cultures co-existed harmoniously, where around two hundred painters were active during the 16th century, had organized a painters' guild, based on the Italian model. In 1563, at the age of twenty-two, El Greco was described in a document as a "master", meaning he was a master of the guild and operating his own workshop. Three years in June 1566, as a witness to a contract, he signed his name in Greek as μαΐστρος Μένεγος Θεοτοκόπουλος σγουράφος. Most scholars believe that the Theotokópoulos "family was certainly Greek Orthodox", although some Catholic sources still claim him from birth. Like many Orthodox emigrants to Catholic areas of Europe, some assert that he may have transferred to Catholicism after his arrival, practiced as a Catholic in Spain, where he described himself as a "devout Catholic" in his will; the extensive archival research conducted since the early 1960s by scholars, such as Nikolaos Panayotakis, Pandelis Prevelakis and Maria Constantoudaki, indicates that El Greco's family and ancestors were Greek Orthodox.
One of his uncles was an Orthodox priest, his name is not mentioned in the Catholic archival baptismal records on Crete. Prevelakis goes further, expressing his doubt that El Greco was a practicing Roman Catholic. Important for his early biography, El Greco, still in Crete, painted his Dormition of the Virgin near the end of his Cretan period before 1567. Three other signed works of "Doménicos" are attributed to El Greco. In 1563, at the age of twenty-two, El Greco was an enrolled master of the local guild in charge of his own workshop, he left for Venice a few years and never returned to Crete. His Dormition of the Virgin, of before 1567 in tempera and gold on panel was created near the end of El Greco's Cretan period; the painting combines post-Byzantine and Italian Mannerist stylistic and iconographic elements, incorporates stylistic elements of the Cretan School. It was natural for the young El Greco to pursue his career in Venice, Crete having been a possession of the Republic of Venice since 1211.
Though the exact year is not clear, most scholars agree that El Greco went to Venice around 1567. Knowledge of El Greco's years in Italy is limited, he lived in Venice until 1570 and, according to a letter written by his much older friend, the greatest miniaturist of the age, Giulio Clovio, was a "disciple" of Titian, by in his eighties but still vigorous. This may mean he worked in Titian's large studio, or not. Clovio characterized El Greco as "a rare talent in painting". In 1570, El Greco moved to Rome, where he executed a series of works marked by his Venetian apprenticeship, it is unknown how long he remained in Rome, though he may have returned to Venice before he left for Spain. In Rome, on the recommendation of Giulio Clovio, El Greco was received as a guest at the P