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“The Holy Trinity” by El Greco

Trinidad El Greco2

“The Holy Trinity” by El Greco is a dramatic and expressionistic depiction of Jesus Christ ascending into heaven following his treacherous journey on Earth. The Trinity is represented by God the Father with a Miter on his head, his Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit symbolised as a dove. Six grieving angels watch over the uprising of the body, while small, cherub faces are gathered at his feet.

El Greco skilfully captures the dead weight of Christ’s body as he is held up by his father’s arms by placing the elongated Christ figure at an awkward angle.  El Greco’s use of brilliant colours and the emotion imbued into the faces make this masterpiece a moving example of religious art.  This composition was inspired from an engraving by Albrecht Dürer, this is one of El Greco´s first commissioned pieces in Toledo, it was painted for the attic of the main altarpiece at the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos, widely known as El Greco, Spanish for “The Greek”, was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. The artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος (Doménikos Theotokópoulos), often adding the word Κρής (Krēs, “Cretan”). He is best known for elongated figures and for marrying Byzantine traditions with those of Western painting.

El Greco was born in Crete, which at that time was part of the Republic of Venice, and the centre of Post-Byzantine art. He trained and became a master Byzantine art before travelling to Venice to work, then he moved to Rome, where he opened a workshop and executed a series of works. In 1577, he moved to Toledo, Spain, where he lived and worked until his death. In Toledo, El Greco received several major commissions and produced his best-known paintings.

El Greco’s style was met with puzzlement by his 14th-century contemporaries, but he found greater appreciation in more modern times and is regarded as a precursor of both Expressionism and Cubism. His works were a source of inspiration for poets and writers, and he is considered, as an artist, so individual that he belongs to no conventional school.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                       The Holy Trinity
  • Artist:                      El Greco
  • Year:                        1579
  • Medium:                 Oil on panel
  • Dimensions:          Height: 300 cm (118.1 in). Width: 179 cm (70.5 in).
  • Museum:                Prado Museum, Museo del Prado

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:            El Greco – “The Greek”
  • Greek:            Doménikos Theotokópoulos
  • Birth:             1541 – Heraklion, Crete
  • Died:              1614 (aged 73) – Toledo, Spain
  • Nationality:  Greek
  • Movement:   Mannerism
  • Notable works:


“The habit doesn’t make the monk. – El hábito no hace al monje. “
Spanish Proverb



Photo Credit: El Greco [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons