Critical Analysis of El Grecos View of Toledo

High atop a hill of granite, surrounded by the gorge and river Tagus sits the ancient and formidable gothic Cathedral andMoorish palace, Alcazar, of Toledo, Spain.Toledo’s skyline has changed little since El Greco immortalized Spain’s religious centre in 1597-9(Cardillac 28).
El Greco’s natural talents, his “schooling,” and the flare of his adopted Spain, combined to produce an artistic genius. El Greco’s ability to convey manneristic images that were so original in conception and color that the detail gives a miraculous conception of cohesion to the whole work(Wethey 61).When studying this canvas, however, one must examine the passionate, moonlit sky; the artistic license El Greco took in the placement of the city’s salient landmarks; and what these liberties connote within the context of his time(Brown 244).
View of Toledo is one of the earliest landscapes in Western Art; in addition, it is El Greco’s only true landscape and thefirst in Spanish Art (Legendre 13).It is a romantic, yet stark dramatic view of his beloved city.Toledo was the centre of the secular and ecclesiastical Spanish world.El Greco was a deeply pious man and formed an instant affection for the city(joslyn.org).
Of El Greco’s two surviving landscapes, View of Toledo isessentially asmystical in composition as his religious canvases (Wethey 63).The painting seems to anticipate the impressionist movement 250 years away. Historically, the striking use of such rich tones of violet, azure, and emerald were dramatically different from the realist conception of nature. In fact, one could argue that El Greco mimicked the “almost psychedelic hues” from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel(Web Museum).Today, these bold color schemes lose much of their impact; however, historically, they were a watershed in painting(Acton 82).
The idea behind this landscape of Toledo was to announce the city’s greatness.The painting was intended to propagate t…