View of Toledo
El #Greco c1596
Geteilt via Plume
Landscape paintings are often meant to document the look of a particular time in a particular place, to freeze a single moment and preserve it for eternity.
El Greco’s View of Toledo does not do that. Although the large church is placed in the correct place in the city, El Greco changed the locations of several other buildings, proving that documentation was not the artist’s primary concern.
Rather than telling us what Toledo looked like, here, EL Greco communicates what the city feels like. Toledo becomes the means through which the artist expresses an interior psychological state, and perhaps, a view about the nature of man’s relationship with the divine.
‚View of Toledo‘ was centuries ahead of its time, and probably can best be compared to Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, 1889, which contains many of the same compositional elements (a swirling sky, overwhelming nature, a skyline dominated by a church).
But whereas van Gogh evokes the calm of a little sleeping town, El Greco’s painting captures the violence of the exterior world against an interior one.
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