El Greco

Light on the materiality

Advanced technical imaging has allowed APAC Labs to literally shed new light on the most intriguing aspect of the work of El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos): his artistic development and transformation as he travelled between Crete, Italy and finally Spain during the 1560s and 1570s. Utilizing imaging techniques like Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), research work focused on a series of early works by El Greco to address the artist’s growing sensibility to the material qualities of painting surfaces as a means to facilitate iconographic narrative.

In collaboration with museums and collections, the study of works like the Herakleion Baptism, the Syros Dormition, the Herakleion View of Mt Sinai, Benaki Museum’s St. Luke painting the Virgin and the Visitation of the Magi, among others, addressed the materiality of the great master’s art, issues of his technique and artistic development, the identification of pigments, as well as aspects related to the works’ conservation.

Ever evolving as an artist, El Greco experimented with materials and used the application of color pigment and moulding brush strokes to animate his paintings, manipulate the reflection of light and thus emphasize the visual narrative of his works.