Posted on 03/25/2009

Photo taken on March 21, 2009

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El Greco - The Modena triptych( back panel 1568)

El Greco - The Modena triptych( back panel 1568)
Tempera on panel, 37 x 23,8 cm( side panels)
Galleria Estense,Modena

Small portable altarpiece with hinged wings, painted on both sides, of a type similar in form to others produced in Crete in the sixteenth century, but with an Italian Renaissance frame. The subjects on the front, from left to right, are the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Allegory of a Christian Knight, and the Baptism; and on the back, the Annunciation, Mount Sinai, and Adam and Eve.

The theme of Mount Sinai, on the back of the central panel, was of Cretan origin, and faithfully repeats a traditional Byzantine model. The picture shows pilgrims on the way to the Monastery, and the Mountain as the Road to Heaven. The reference to Saint Catherine in both the central panels has been suggested as a possible indication of the artist's connection' in Crete with the monastery of Saint Catherine, a dependency of that of Mount Sinai, and the most important school of painting in the island. The other compositions are similarly not original, but here the artist has used engravings after Italian (mainly Venetian) compositions as his models. The repetition of traditional images was usual in Byzantine art.