The Oballe Chapel in San Vincente, Toledo (1608-13)
by EL GRECO

Isabel de Oballe, the wife of a wealthy Toledan merchant, bequeathed funds for the foundation of a chapel in the parish church of San Vicente, Toledo, in her will of 1557, drawn up in Lima, Peru. Work on the chapel began in 1597, to the designs of the architect Juan Bautista de Monegro, and in 1606 the town council of Toledo, to whom the patronage of the chapel had passed, awarded the contract for the decoration to Alessandro Semini, a Genoese painter working in the city. Semini, however, died in 1607, having made a start only on some frescoes, and El Greco moved swiftly to take over the project, introducing some alternative proposals that included making the altarpiece taller, replacing the frescoed decoration with oil paintings on canvas, and placing a framed scene of The Visitation on the ceiling. Agreement was reached on 11 December 1607, and the painter was required to finish the work within eight months, presumably in time for the feast of the Assumption on 15 August 1608.

On 13 August 1608, the painter declared in a petition to the council that the painting was well advanced, but it was clearly not finished. On 17 April 1613 he stated that the whole commission was completed and he requested a valuation, but only in March 1615, after his death, was his son Jorge Manuel able to declare that 'the altarpiece and the rest of the work of the Chapel of Isabel de Oballe which my father was contracted to do is finished and the said altar in place'

The centrepiece of the scheme, over the altar, was The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception in addition to The Visitation, the programme may have included the paintings of Saint Peter and Saint Ildefonso.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 22 minutes):
Heinrich Schütz: Magnificat


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception
1608-13
Oil on canvas, 348 x 174,5 cm
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo

700*1376
True Color
181 Kb



The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (detail)
1608-13
Oil on canvas
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo

900*1140
True Color
190 Kb



The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (detail)
1608-13
Oil on canvas
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo

900*1214
True Color
164 Kb



The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (detail)
1608-13
Oil on canvas
Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo

956*579
True Color
111 Kb



Saint Peter
1610-13
Oil on canvas, 209 x 106 cm
Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial

750*1463
True Color
140 Kb



St Ildefonso
1610-13
Oil on canvas, 219 x 105 cm
Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial

700*1479
True Color
162 Kb



The Visitation
1610-13
Oil on canvas, 96 x 72,4 cm
Dumbarton Oaks, Washington

870*1176
True Color
187 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 |