(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)
The Purification of the Templec. 1570
Oil on poplar panel, 65 x 83 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
El Greco painted several pictures of The Purification of the Temple. The subject, which evidently held a deep fascination for El Greco, accompanied the artist throughout his career: he painted some versions in Italy (possibly even in Venice) and several more dating from the 1590s onwards - in Spain. Many more was painted in his studio. The catalogue raisonné of El Greco's works lists four as autograph and eight as studio pictures or copies.
This is the earliest known version of this subject by El Greco. It has usually been dated to El Greco's Venetian years, although some scholars have placed it to his time in Rome. The artist borrowed extensively from High Renaissance visual models (among others from Michelangelo, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto) and did very little to disguise them. Uncertainties in the handling of anatomy and space can be observed which confirm the early date of the painting.