The Entombment of Christ El Greco Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Entombment of Christ by El Greco came whilst the artist was in his late twenties. It features the Italian style which was predominant within his career at that point.

The painting is dated at 1570-1576 and just a year later in 1577 he would head over to Spain after receiving a large commissioned series which persuaded El Greco to relocate. He may not have intended to stay as long as he did, but the artist settled in Toledo and he grew to love the region. This also impacted the style of his work which kept many of the Italian influences, but also fused in ideas from Spanish painters, as well as his own, which took his work into a new and exciting direction. Within The Entombment of Christ, many have argued for the influence of Michelangelo within this piece, particularly in how the facial expressions are delivered. Indeed, many great artists have taken on the burial of Christ within their careers, for this topic brings great emotion to any scene, because of the symbolism of this content. Caravaggio's The Entombment of Christ is another memorable version and features the artist's trademark use of dramatic lighting to further set the scene - that famous piece arrived several decades after this version by El Greco.

The Entombment by Michelangelo may also have been known to El Greco, and this version arrived before his own, in 1501. Even today, Michelangelo continues to be regarded as the most important sculptor within the Renaissance and was also a highly gifted painter. El Greco learnt much from his time living in Italy, having originally been brought up in Crete. Perhaps he was always likely to want to head out of this small region and investigate larger nations, particularly as a budding artist who would have seen the developments going on in other European nations at that time. His own artwork displayed here featured subdued colours, with dull tones dominating the scene in order to match the sombre nature of this event. Christ is placed into a tomb upon the edge of a mountain, with a cave just to the side. A window of sky can be seen to the right, as a number of figures carefully place him into the tomb. Tones of pink and red are used here, influenced by Venetian art, but even they cannot lift the spirits of this sad scene, leaving us to reflect on the suffering of Christ.

The painting can today be found at the Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens, making it one of the few artworks on display in the artist's original country of Greece. It is important in helping us learn more about the full evolution that this artist went on during his lifetime, and how different regions would impact his style in different ways. Landscape art would not become a major genre until several centuries from now but it would regularly feature within other genres, and we see that here within this painting. The location is set with the barren land on which these figures congregate, delivering an entirely undeserved and unfitting end for a morally strong Christ. Thankfully, the Bible's teachings about the Life of Christ would not stop here on this unfortunate moment and many, more positive, episodes would appear elsewhere in El Greco's oeuvre.