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

St Andrew and St Francis

Oil on canvas, 167 x 113 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

El Greco would have been aware of the grand series of pairs of Saints painted by Navarrete for the chapels of the Church of the Escorial, the commission interrupted by the latter's death in 1579. From the time of the Burial of the Count of Orgaz, El Greco began to create his own images of the different Saints. Once a pattern was created, he kept closely to it.

The pairing of Saints - the juxtaposition of two separate personalities, with their different spiritual significance - accentuates the individual characters. Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the two Saint Johns, were more obvious juxtapositions, but he also brought together such unlikely characters as in the present painting - the one, the somewhat austere Apostle and Martyr of the time of Christ; the other, the ecstatic and 'gentle' Saint of the Middle Ages. The landscape also is double. The Saint Francis derives from the figure on the left of the Burial of the Count of Orgaz, and has become more spiritualised; the Saint Andrew is the same type as that of the Talavera painting of 1591, and the gesture is a remarkable development of the similar gesture of the Saint Maurice, in the Escorial painting, and eventually, indeed, can be traced back to the early Healing of the Blind.

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