Pentecost 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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Pentecost, from circa 1600, features the type of drama and emotion that was typical of artist El Greco. This piece came towards the end of his career, by which point he had drawn in a variety of influences from both Italian and Spanish art.

This piece is believed to have been part of a pair, sitting alongside Resurrection. The artist is known to have finished Pentecost in around 1600, but had already been working on it for several years by that point. He may even have contributed to both at the same time, ensuring a strong consistency between the two artworks. He would also complete The Annunciation as part of a large commission which marked his rise to the summit of Spanish art at that time. Interestingly, the artist had already covered all of the themes in this commission previously, except Pentecost. The patrons therefore had less idea of how this item might look, though they would have been highly familiar with his consistently expressive approach by the end of the 16th century. The final artwork perfectly captures the essence of the artist, with emotion and drama combined with heavily constrasting tones and a relatively modern feel to the overall piece. El Greco was working in a manner which would essentially modernise the Renaissance, and open the way for later movements to follow.

This huge piece measures 275 cm in height by 127 cm in width and it can be seen in all its glory at the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. Many Spaniards consider El Greco to be one of their own, because of the impact that he made within the Spanish Renaissance, even though he was actually Greek by birth. Another factor in that perception is that the Prado Museum hosts a fine selection of some of the highlights for his career and so his roots within the country remain strong all the centuries later. He spent his early years in Italy, studying under a number of masters before being in Spain for his remaining years. Even the likes of Diego Velazquez are known to have appreciated his work very much, and so his legacy would stretch across both nations. Today, their work sits alongside each other, as masters of the 16th and 17th centuries within this truly impressive permanent collection that continues to attract visitors to the Spanish capital from all around the world.

It is believed that Resurrection and Pentecost would have been positioned together on the same altarpiece. The Crucifixion may also have been placed between them. Some evidence has been uncovered that other artists may have made some tweaks to these works, though in a relatively minor manner that should not really impact the attribution of each piece. The Colegio de la Encarnación provided the funds for this significant commission and they would be responsible for installing the final artworks once they were complete. It was the artist's dramatic use of colour which really brought these scenes to life, providing some important additions to his oeuvre as his career started to draw to a close. Within this series one can immediately understand as to why he is regularly connected to the Expressionists of the 20th century, and it would be hard to dismiss his influence upon them, even though so many centuries lied in between these two different periods. It must also be remembered that this late period did differ slightly, with El Greco becoming even bolder in the last two decades of his career.

Pentecost in Detail El Greco