El Greco masterpieces to make auction debut in London

Sotheby’s announces “unprecedented” auction of two paintings by the master of the Spanish Renaissance

 

Religious art may be out of fashion in an increasingly secular society but almost all the greatest works of art in 2,000 years of western civilisation involved depictions of Christian images.

Sotheby’s has announced “an unprecedented auction event, by offering for the first time in living memory, two masterworks by El Greco in the same sale”. The auction house said that “more than 400 years since they were executed” the two paintings, Christ on the Cross and Saint Dominic in Prayer, estimated at £3 million to £5 million each (€3.5m-€5.8m), would make their auction debuts on July 3rd in London.

Alexander Bell, international head of Sotheby’s Old Master paintings department, said “There is something profoundly moving about El Greco’s art. He was an extraordinarily visionary artist, undoubtedly one of the most powerfully expressive in western art”. Born in Crete in 1541, Doménikos Theotokópoulos moved first to Italy and then to Spain, where he became known as El Greco. He was one of the great artists of the Spanish Renaissance. He died in Toledo in 1614. Christ on the Cross, described as “a powerful and dramatic altarpiece”, is the last of only three surviving large-scale versions of this composition; the others are in the collection of the Museum of Art, Cleveland, and in the collection of the Marqués de la Motilla in Seville.

There are four known versions of Saint Dominic in Prayer, “a small, introspective work for private devotion”. The others are in the collection of Placido Arango, Madrid; the sacristy of Toledo Cathedral; and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

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