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'El Espolio' (The Disrobing of Christ)

El Greco (Kríti [Crete] 1541 - Toledo province 1614)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1577 - 1578

Materials

Oil on pine panel

Measurements

557 x 347 mm

Place of origin

Toledo

Order this image

Collection

Upton House, Warwickshire

NT 446826

Summary

Oil painting on pine panel, 'El Espolio' (The Disrobing of Christ) by El Greco (Kríti 1541 - Toledo province 1614), signed in two lines on the cartellino (paper) bottom right (mostly effaced): Δ…ΟΣ ΘΕΟΤ…ΥΝΟΣ (Domenikos Theoto [copoulos] Cretan made), 1577/78. Christ stands on Calvary in the centre of a group of soldiers, one of whom reaches for His robe; in the right foreground an executioner bends over the cross which lies on the ground and pierces holes for the nails; he is watched by the three Marys (Mary Cleophas, the Virgin and Mary Magdalen) standing at the left in distress. The scene relates to a part of the Passion in the Gospel of St Matthew (xxvii 27-28): 'Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.' The title comes from the Latin verb 'spoliare' (in Spanish: espolio). The present picture is a reduced version of El Greco's famous image of the disrobing of Christ produced as an altarpiece for the sacristy of Toledo Cathedral (commissioned by the Cathedral's Dean, Diego de Castilla, in 1577 and completed in 1579).

Provenance

Possibly owned by Diego de Castilla (1510/15-1584),1577-84; Don Gaspar de Haro y Guzman, 7th Marquis del Carpio and de Heliche (1629- 1687) as is indicated by the monogram DGH on the back of the panel; inherited by his daughter Doña Catalina de Haro, who married the 10th Duke of Alba in 1688; possibly Queen Maria Cristina de Borbón-Dos Sicilias (1806 - 1878), widow of Ferdinand VII (1784-1833); in Paris in 19th century, belonged to the artist Eugène Delacroix and later his executor Baron Louis-Auguste Schwiter (1805 -1889); Schwiter sale, Paris 3 May 1886, lot 10; acquired by P. A. Chéramy (1840- 1912), Paris; Chéramy sale Galerie George Petit, Paris 5 - 7 May 1908, lot 77: bought by M. Ducrey, Paris; bought by Wildenstein, Paris, 1938 on behalf of 2nd Viscount Bearsted who paid £5,000 for it in June; given with Upton House to the National Trust by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882 – 1948), in 1948, shortly before his death

Credit line

Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: DGH - Don Gaspar de Haro

Makers and roles

El Greco (Kríti [Crete] 1541 - Toledo province 1614) , artist

Exhibition history

Greco, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 2019 - 2020 The Greek of Toledo, Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain , 2014, no.cat.42 New Light on Old Masters, Squash Court Gallery, 2013

References

Wethey 1962 Harold E. Wethey, El Greco and his School, 2 vols., Princeton University Press, 1962, no. 80, II, pp. 54-6 Camon Aznar 1964 Jose Camon Aznar, Velázquez, Madrid, 2 vols, 1950 (revised edition 1970), no. 150 El Greco of Toledo Painter of the Visible and the Invisible (ed. Fernando Marias), Museum of Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain 14th March - 14th June 2014, no.42, pp.191

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