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Removing clothes with Christ

Painting, 1579, 285×173 cm

Description of the artwork «Removing clothes with Christ»

Quite often, the finishing work on the paintings of the artist El Greco entailed litigation for payment of his labors. The fact is that while in Spain there was a tradition according to which cost of works is not stipulated in advance: its value was determined by experts upon completion. And due to the fact that the Board Philip II painting was considered a lot of artisans, not worthy of people of higher origin, and evaluated it accordingly.

But El Greco never put up with this state of Affairs, and not so much from greed, as the love of the beautiful art which, in his opinion, deserved a better relationship. He therefore refused to part with the finished orders up until the amount designated to be paid, is not consistent with his ideas about the value of work. Not have passed this Cup and the painting "Removing clothes with Christ" which some time later was destined to become one of the main attractions of Toledo.

The persistence and work


El Greco was commissioned to make the altarpiece for the Cathedral of Toledo, on 2 July 1577. Two years later, when the painting was almost completed, began the fuss associated with his assessment. Invited experts who had to judge the artist and the client – the Chapter of the Cathedral established that "the dignity of a picture so great that not measurable", and therefore the author is supposed to pay the requested 900 ducats.

The Chapter did not want to accept this decision, and drew another recognized authority – a well-known local jeweler Alejo de Montoya. His verdict was also disappointing: "the Picture is better than what he had ever seen; if you want to evaluate it, then the price should be so high that few, maybe no one will be able to buy it; however, considering the poverty of the times, should pay Domenico three and a half thousand reais".

But the greedy, the customer decided to resort to trickery, stating that image is not consistent with the gospel narrative. If El Greco had in mind the version of John the Revelator, that he was personally present at the painting next to Jesus. But if the artist was referring to the time described in the other three Gospels, the Christ was not to be three women – the mother of God, Mary sleepaway and Mary Magdalene as they watched events from the sidelines.

Painter was ordered to repaint in accordance with these comments. But since the corrected version was nothing in comparison with the first, then the Chapter, reluctantly, was forced to compromise and accept the terms of El Greco, if he will slightly understate the price. The most remarkable moment in all of history – during the litigation, the picture became so popular that the artist 17 times received orders for its repetition.

Apparently, the Chapter of the Cathedral still tortured conscience, and in 1582 El Greco at his request produced a carved frame, which meekly paid several times more than the canvas. And all these twists and turns were not in vain for Spain of the art world: the painters won the right to challenge in court the value of their work, citing the precedent of El Greco.

Scarlet sunset


The picture is also known under its original name – "Espolio" (from the Spanish word expoliación – "the spoil"). We are talking about the scene, which is mentioned in all four Gospels: "the Soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and divided into four parts, to every soldier at the part, and the tunic; the tunic was not sewn, but woven whole from the top. And they said one to another, are not going to tear it, and throw about it a lot, whose will it might be fulfilled that which was spoken in the Scripture: they divided My garments among themselves and for My clothing they cast lots" (Jn. 19:23 – 24; PS. 21:19). This is very important, as it confirms the truth of the divine nature of Christ, because it was predicted in one of the Psalms the book of Psalms long before His coming.

Contrary to the title of the painting, the moment of removing Reese from Jesus remained "behind the scenes". But directly his garment is given a Central place on the canvas. El Greco has skillfully mastered the art of writing of clothes, particularly of the folds as they come and he has an extraordinary subordinated to a certain rhythm and set the tone for the entire canvas. The artist always gives the vestments of his characters a special meaning, underscoring their character, origin or supernatural nature.

The saints and inhabitants of heaven it is traditionally clothed in shining, as if woven of light, capes, written with such a mastery that literally does not take away from their look (1, 2, 3). And in the case of a painting, "removal of the garments of Christ": in the burning glow of a tunic reflected the imminent death of a Martyr of Jesus, and His Royal nature, and conviction in the bloodlust raging around the crowd. Silky flowing folds contrasts with the sharp copies on the background of anxiety and a stormy sky.

Warrior, to whom the lot fell to heaton, has already set the gate to remove it. But Christ does not seem to notice what is happening, being immersed in prayer for those who in a few moments will crucify him on the cross. With his left hand as if he's covering in a prayerful gesture of a warrior who makes the final preparations, working on the instrument of execution.

Author: Natalia Azarenka
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Mannerism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1579

Size: 285×173 cm

Artwork in selections: 21 selections

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