Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

“View of Toledo” by El Greco

View of Toledo MET DP349564

“View of Toledo” by El Greco

“View of Toledo” by El Greco is one of only two surviving landscapes by El Greco and is among the most famous depictions of the sky in Western art.

El Greco’s expressive handling of color and form was unique in the history of art. In this painting, he takes liberties with the actual layout of buildings that are re-arranged for effect.

The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563) had banned landscape painting, so this work is one of the first Spanish landscape painting of its time.

The painting’s symbolism is related to the history and heritage of the city during the time this painting was created. 

Charles I’s royal court was in Toledo, and the town served as the imperial capital until 1561, after which the Spanish court was moved to Madrid.

This painting was painted shortly after the royal capital, and the Spanish court left Toledo behind. El Greco’s background in Byzantine art also influenced this painting.

El Greco

Doménikos Theotokópoulos, widely known as El Greco, Spanish for “The Greek,” was a painter, sculptor, and architect of the Spanish Renaissance.

The artist frequently 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 center of Post-Byzantine art.

He trained and became a master of Byzantine art before traveling 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 16th-century contemporaries. However, he found greater appreciation in modern times and is today 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.

View of Toledo

  • Title:                 View of Toledo
  • Artist:               El Greco
  • Year:                 1599
  • Medium:          Oil on panel
  • Dimensions:     47.7 × 42.7 in (121.2 × 108.5 cm)
  • Museum:         Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

El Greco

Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art

MET European Paintings Collection

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection

MET Egyptian Art Collection

MET Asian Art Collection

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

MET American Wing Collection

MET Islamic Art Collection

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Collection

MET European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

MET Medieval Art Collection

MET Drawings and Prints Collection

MET Costume Institute Collection

MET Arms and Armor Collection

MET Photograph Collection

MET Musical Instrument Collection

Explore the MET

El Greco’s dramatic interpretation of Toledo | Art, Explained

El Greco: A collection of 218 paintings


“Artists create out of a sense of desolation. The spirit of creation is an excruciating, intricate exploration from within the soul.”
– El Greco


Photo Credit: [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Top Posts & Pages

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites - Virtual Tours
"The Cardsharps" by Caravaggio
Petersen Automotive Museum - Virtual Tour
The Broad - Virtual Tour
Japanese American National Museum - Virtual Tour
Griffith Observatory - Virtual Tour
"Portrait of an Old Woman" by Hans Memling
Autry Museum of the American West - Virtual Tour
Quotes about Museums, Art and History
"Saint Jerome as Scholar" by El Greco