El Greco, The Vision of Saint John

The Vision of Saint John 1608-14

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Vision of Saint John

source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436576
This work is a fragment from a large altarpiece made for the church of the hospital of Saint John the Baptist in Toledo. It depicts an apocalyptic moment at the biblical end of time, based on the book of Revelation (6:9–11), a subject perfectly suited to El Greco’s visionary palette and otherworldly forms. Many avant-garde painters studied El Greco’s canvas while it was in Paris between 1907 and 1909. Pablo Picasso was directly inspired by the dramatic figures in this work for his landmark painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907; Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Painted on a canvas with this pattern:

weave draft of the pattern after analyses of the x-ray image, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


The altarpiece


The Annunciation

source: https://www.fundacionbancosantander.com/en/culture/art/banco-santander-collection/the-annunciation
The Annunciation in the Banco Santander Collection is one of El Greco’s final works. It was intended for the right side altar of the church in Tavera Hospital, but the painter died before he could finish it. The picture was divided into two parts in the late 19th century. The central scene, showing the Virgin and angel, belongs to Banco Santander, while the upper register with an “angelic choir” scene is held at the National Gallery in Athens.
When the painting was lined in the 20th century, a major alteration was made that changed the original composition. The angel’s legs were cut down and moved to make the figure stand on the floor, which destroyed the dynamic effect El Greco had originally devised.The upper part of this fragment ends with a heavenly scene of divine light bursting through the clouds and an allegorical representation of the Virtues. This area of the composition is magnificently executed with a confident technique, loose brushwork and vibrant colouring. [Rafael Alonso Alonso]


The Concert of the Angels

source: https://www.nationalgallery.gr/en/artwork/the-concert-of-the-angels/
located in the National Gallery of Greece, inv. no: Π.152
This strange yet “modern” painting is the heavenly section of an “Annunciation”, today in the collections of a Madrid bank. It is one of the very last works painted by Greco shortly before he died in Toledo in 1614. Left unfinished, the painting teaches us a lot about the artist`s technique. One notices that these angels have no wings. They are the members of a heavenly orchestra, playing period musical instruments, of the sort that the artist must have seen while living in Venice. The instruments are a spinet (a precursor of the piano), a harp, a flute and a viola da gamba. The second angel is holding the score and directing as well as singing. Note the accuracy in capturing the musicians` gestures. The figures have been rendered in swift brushwork, and the angels` robes sway with movement, as if they were swirling tongues of fire. Note also the iridescent palette employed by the painter: the orange in red and green, the gold in blue. Changing even as the light falls on them, such colours were called metanthounta by ancient Greeks. The painting is vibrant with inner life. The Concert may be seen as a precursor of Expressionism. (Source museums website)



The Medieval textile treasure from the abbey of Sint-Truiden

Published by Peters Leuven Provinciaal Museum voor Religieuze Kunst Begijnhofkerk Sint Truiden 1991
Little is known about the comercial activities of the abbey of Sint -Truiden. We know that these activities did exist; from the earliest days onwards the Benedictine abbots held up intensive contacts with their dependants abroad.
It’s there they acquired the precious materials that were used as coverings for relics.
But all this was by far overshadowed by the commercial activities of the city itself.
Due to a flourishing linen industry in the 13th and 14th centuries, Sint-Truiden was one of the main trade centres the Meuse -Rhine area. We’ve found traces of this in various inventories.
The merchants of Sint-Truiden found their way to all the important markets of that time, where they had access to the most precious weaves. These weaves were preserved in reliquaries for ages. Today they are the material witnesses of the international activity of Sint-Truiden, now a long time ago.

textile analyses and graphics by Daniel de Jonghe and Lut Verrelst

the pattern in this textile piece is the same as in the canvas of The Vision of Saint John