Julián Romero and his Patron Saint 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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Julián Romero and his Patron Saint is an artwork in the style of El Greco, owned by the Prado Museum in Madrid, but currently residing elsewhere. Here we examine this piece which is loosely dated at between 1612 and 1618.

Most art historians have concluded that this painting was most likely completed by a follower of El Greco, rather than the artist himself. He would pass away in the year 1614 and even after his death new paintings would appear and immediately be attributed to his career, with a number of painters working in a similar style. El Greco had his own workshop, where a number of assistants would help out on a variety of projects. There would be trained to work in a similar manner to his own and some of them would work independently after his death. This would inevitably lead to confusion over the last few paintings that he produced, as well as others which appeared from his studio during the same period, or just after. That said, historians are fairly clear that this piece is from a follower of his, and perhaps that explains why the Prado was willing to loan it elsewhere, rather than having it on permanent display alongside the other El Greco paintings within their collection. These include the likes of The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest, Fable and The Flight into Egypt. El Greco remains one of the biggest draw for this venue, because of the popularity that surrounds his expressive style, as well as the impressive number of works from his career that are displayed here.

We find two main figures within this painting, along with some detail in the background. The standing figure is dressed in armour and looks to the sky. Beside him, kneeling, is someone dressed as if a Knight of Saint James and he also looks in the same upwards direction. The artist allows the latter to take most of our initial attention with his cloak laid out across the bottom of the painting, forming something of a triangular shape which was common within Renaissance sculpture. The lighter tones of his outfit also makes him stand out from everything else in the work. The knight's armour is finely detailed but holds a similar tone to the background, where a thick architectural column lies to their left. Interestingly, there is also some inscriptions to the left hand side which no doubt relate to the content found in this painting. Julián Romero and his Patron Saint features many elements that are typical of the artist, such as the style of the faces, but there is also some slight divergence which would have led historians to start to wonder whether this was really an El Greco painting at all. The open eyes and relatively thin facial structures can be found throughout El Greco's portraits, but the use of architecture in this manner feels quite unusual.

Closer inspection reveals the kneeling individual to be Julián Romero, as identified in the text to his left. He is believed to have been a respected, brave soldier from the 16th century. He was involved in several significant victories whilst serving under Philip II of Spain. Historians believe that the text was an afterthought, added many years later to help us identify the figures in this painting. It may not have even been written by the original artist, therefore. Experts have examined this composition in detail and concluded that the artist was clearly heavily influenced by El Greco but that he had enough of his own style to be sure that this artwork did not come from either the master, nor members of his studio. His popularity would lead many to take elements of his style into their own, whilst offshooting into new and exciting directions in the years leading up to, and after, his death.