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

Christ on the Cross Adored by Two Donors

c. 1580
Oil on canvas, 248 x 180 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

A priest and a nobleman, probably the patrons who commissioned the painting, are shown praying before Christ on the cross. (It is assumed by some scholars that they are the brothers Diego and Antonio Covarrubias.) El Greco has included realistic details such as the drops of blood trickling from Christ's forehead, hands and feet, while leaving his torso and legs unstained. Light and shadow model Christ's musculature, the elongation of his contorted body enhancing a sense of his suffering. Above his head a sheet of paper stuck to the cross informs us in Hebrew, Greek and Latin that he is Jesus of Nazareth, with the additional ironic words in Greek hailing him as the King of Jews.

The influence of Michelangelo - whose works El Greco would have known in Rome - is recognized in the depiction of the naked Christ. In fact, the posture and anatomy of El Greco's Christ echo in reverse Michelangelo's drawing for Vittoria Colonna.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.