Posted on 10/14/2009

Photo taken on October 13, 2009

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El Greco,Laocoon (c.1610)

El Greco,Laocoon (c.1610)

Oil on canvas, 142 x 193 cm
National Gallery of Arts,washington

In the background, a view of Toledo, as Troy, and the Trojan Horse. El Greco would have known the sculptured group in Rome, uncovered at the beginning of the sixteenth century, but more significantly he would have known the original story, which he has interpreted in an entirely independent way. This is the only known painting of classical subject matter by El Greco, and he does seem to give it a special spiritual meaning. The horizontal format is uncharacteristic of his works in Spain, which become increasingly more elevated in composition and spirit. The essential verticality of the composition is made clear, however, by the high horizon and the upward movement of the flanking figures. The view of Toledo appears to have been taken from the same view-point as that of the Metropolitan Museum painting, which it continues to the right, the two together completing the panorama of the town. The panoramic View and Plan of Toledo in the Museo de El Greco, Toledo, is taken from a different viewpoint.

Recent cleaning has uncovered a third figure in the group on the right, which El Greco had overpainted.

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