Healing of the Man Born Blind El Greco Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

El Greco completed several different interpretations of Healing of the Man Born Blind, with this version from 1567. It resides today at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.

The artist would have been in his mid twenties at the time of this work, and we see many of the hallmarks of his early career within this piece. There are none of the elongated forms and dramatic lighting that appeared later on and instead we find a clear influence from artists such as Titian, Paolo Veronese and also Tintoretto. Venetian art, for example, would impact the tones of colour used by El Greco and these remained broadly consistent throughout his career. The most obvious example of that would be in the clothing of his figures, where particular colours such as red and blue would appear time and time again. This delightful piece is more traditional than how we remember the artist and could easily pass as from an Italian school of around that period, where as El Greco was from Crete himself and later moved from Italy to Spain in search of further artistic progression.

The straight forward composition features Christ, complete with halo, attending to a blindman. Whilst others jostle on the right hand side of the painting, he allows this kneeling man to see for the first time in his life. This kindness appears throughout the Bible, with Christ helping others, focusing on the lives of ordinary people. Behind the lively crowd is a swirling sky scene, as well as some architecture of a classical nature. El Greco put buildings into many of his early works, but much less so later on as his style evolved. The buildings themselves plus the tiled floor also enabled El Greco to impart a sense of perspective, which was another advancement during the Renaissance, pushing of from the flatter scenes found in art from the middle ages. This miracle appears in Jesus in the Gospels and is based in Siloam. Celidonius is the name generally given to the blindman who is saved by Christ.

Whilst this piece from 1567 appears in Dresden, Germany, other versions can be found in Palma, Italy (circa 1573) and also at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US (circa 1570). The artist regularly re-visited religious themes, partly because of the amount of work that he produced across his career, but also because patrons might view some of his completed paintings and request something similar for themselves. Over time he would set up his own studio that enabled him to meet the demands of a growing number of patrons, and eventually he would involve his own son, who would eventually lead the other assistants himself. As the artist grew older, so he would call upon their help more and more, though always keeping a close eye on the quality of each piece.