The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (1586-88)
by EL GRECO

No picture better demonstrates the essence of El Greco's art than his most famous, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, which was painted for his own parish church, Santo Tomé. Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Count of Orgaz, was a Toledan nobleman who had lived in the fourteenth century and acquired a renown as a donor to religious institutions. Before he died, he had willed certain rents from the village of Orgaz to the church of Santo Tomé, where he had elected to be buried. In 1586 the parish priest initiated a project to refurbish the count's burial chapel, and commissioned El Greco to paint what has to be considered as his masterpiece.

The most striking aspect of the composition is the juxtaposition of the imaginative vision of heaven with the burial scene, in which all the figures are garbed in contemporary costumes and presumably represent distinguished citizens of Al Greco's Toledo. The dichotomy in style between the upper and lower parts is one of the most remarkable feature of the painting. In the lower zone, El Greco meticulously reproduces the appearances of persons and objects. The heavenly scene, by contrast is far more abstracted. This peculiar synthesis of real and super-real is essential to El Greco's art.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 10 minutes):
Orlando Gibbons: Te Deum


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
1586-88
Oil on canvas, 480 x 360 cm
Santo Tomé, Toledo

950*1164
True Color
203 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

1316*722
True Color
197 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

1316*890
True Color
191 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

900*1237
True Color
164 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

1000*1148
True Color
168 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

1202*1000
True Color
175 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

1256*800
True Color
185 Kb



The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (detail)
1586-88
Oil on canvas
Santo Tomé, Toledo

510*720
True Color
70 Kb




Summary of paintings by El Greco
Crete: before 1567 | Venice: 1567-70 | Rome: 1570-75
Spain
1576-80 (page 1) (page 2) | 1581-85 | 1586-90 | 1591-95 | 1596-1600
Santo Domingo: 1577-79 | Count Orgaz: 1586-88 | Colegio: 1596-1600
Capilla San José: 1597-99 | Illescas: 1603-05 | Apostolado: 1610-14
c. 1600 | 1601-05 | 1606-10 | c. 1610 | after 1610
Oballe Chapel: 1608-13 | Hospital Tavera: 1608-14 | Drawings | Sculptures
Subjects
| Apostles | Saints | Christ | Portraits |