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

An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool (Fábula)

Oil on canvas, 65 x 90 cm
Private collection

The central figure is closely based on El Greco's earlier painting of a Boy Blowing on an Ember in Naples but the scene has been enlarged to include another male figure, wearing a yellow jacket and red cap, and a chained monkey, who emerges from the darkness on the left to look over the boy's shoulder. The composition, known in two other autograph versions (one of similar size in Edinburgh from around 1590, and another smaller and later in the Prado from around 1600), has usually been interpreted as an allegory with some sort of moralising intent; it is unlikely that it was conceived simply as a genre scene. It bears the traditional title 'Fábula', meaning fable or story.