The apostles Peter and Paul

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2599 × 3256 px • JPEG
35.3 × 40.8 cm • 187 dpi
44.0 × 55.1 cm • 150 dpi
22.0 × 27.6 cm • 300 dpi
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Über das Kunstwerk
Kunstgattung: Malerei
Motiv und Objekte: Religiöse Szene
Kunststil: Manierismus
Technik: Öl
Materialien: Leinwand
Erstellungsdatum: 1592
Größe: 121.5×105 cm
Das Kunstwerk befindet sich in den ausgewählten Sammlungen: 31 selections
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Bildbeschreibung «The apostles Peter and Paul»

"The apostles Peter and Paul" – extremely discreet sample religious painting brushes by El Greco. Unlike the ecstatic, crazy, detail-rich multi-figured scenes (1, 2, 3), famed painter in his permanent dwelling place – Spanish Toledo – and far beyond, this picture is extremely concise, but no less effective.

It is believed that the painting was originally intended for the altar of the Church of the College of doña Maria de Aragon in Madrid. But as a result of hostilities in 1808, among other paintings by El Greco, the work was taken from the city in order to prevent the looting of the creative heritage of the artist soldiers of Napoleon. In 1911, Russian military leader Pyotr Durnovo gave the canvas with the apostles to the Hermitage where it is kept to this day.

Peter and Paul: unity and struggle of opposites?

Despite the seeming simplicity of the composition, this painting by El Greco has become a fertile field for interpretation, which broke a lot of copies of the venerable art. Version about what meant the artist and what is the meaning invested in gestures proapototic were nominated the most controversial, until the opposite.

According to one of them, on the canvas depicted an episode from the lives of the saints, described in Galatians. In it the Apostle Paul denounces his older colleague in hypocrisy and inconsistency, after he began to shun the Gentiles in the presence of adopted the Christian faith of the Jews, as had previously noted the need to carry out missionary activity not only among the Jews but also other peoples.

From this point of view, the situation of the Apostle Paul in the picture is treated as dominant, his gesture – blaming, and the Apostle Peter speaks to a repentant apostate. But this concept has many critics, and not wrongly: it does not correspond to the nature of the two saints. Though they are aimed not outside, but inside, in the contemplation of something hidden from our eyes. More like what the preachers deep in prayer or serious reflection spiritual sense.

Of course, the harmony of composition rests on the opposition, as is too often the case with El Greco. Experience and gray hair of St. Peter contrasts with the determination and hard gaze of his younger colleague. Favorite technique of the artist, in principle, was the game on the contrast, especially between the earthly and heavenly matters. And as usual prefer to do the El Greco in such cases, he stresses its combining within one canvas a variety of artistic means.

Human nature is reflected apostles with clear, realistic drawn faces, their hands, the background. And netmarket, belonging to the Holy Spirit embodied in shining robes, written in a free, expressive manner. The hierarchy of the apostles passed with the help of color: in the Byzantine iconographic symbolism of gold, the highest color ranking, and the red should be right behind him.

Fishers of men

From Scripture it is known that the chief Apostle came to faith radically different ways. Fisherman, Simon called himself Christ, giving him the name Peter. Violent Pharisee Saul plunged down the voice of God a year later at the resurrection of Christ, when he followed to Damascus as a persecutor of the first Christians. So he became Paul the Apostle, one of the most active preachers of Christianity. This difference in their lives draws attention to the artist, placing in the lower right corner of the two books.

The lower, most – obviously the gospel, which lies at the Foundation of Christian doctrine. On top of it is revealed in the book of Acts, the apostles established. It is unknown whether it is the intention of El Greco, but has turned interesting balance. The figure of the Apostle Peter takes up less space on the canvas that more than kompensiruet presence at the forefront of the book, which describes the most important events of his life – the years spent hand in hand with the Savior.

Paul, whose figure dominates the picture, his left hand confidently relies on them to set up (after all, he wrote a substantial part of the Apostolic Epistles), but the right seemed to accept the spiritual experience of the more seasoned Peter. This intertwining of the hands and gestures of the two apostles is semantic and compositional center of the picture, not coincidentally situated exactly on the Golden section. It is the interaction and exchange of mystical wisdom so different, but United by a common cause of the missionaries, not their opposition – the key idea of works by El Greco.

Author: Natalia Azarenka