GRECO, El
(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

Portrait of a Man

c. 1575
Oil on canvas, 116 x 98 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

In the absence of documentary evidence there is no basis for making definite identification of the sitter, although many proposals can be found in the literature. The portrait demonstrates that El Greco successfully assimilated the Venetian style of portrait-painting while working in the city between 1567 and 1570. Indeed, until his signature was rediscovered in 1898, the picture was thought to be a self-portrait by Tintoretto.

El Greco probably painted the portrait in Rome several years after moving there in November 1570. It reflects El Greco's association with intellectuals. The only clues to the identity of the sitter are the book and the drawing instrument beside it. He makes an eloquent gesture characteristic for an orator.