PAN Paris

El Greco: First Major Retrospective Dedicated to El Greco in France – Grand Palais

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  • October 25, 2019
    2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Guided tour in French. 90 minutes.

Born on the island of Crete, Domenikos Theotokopoulos acquired the name El Greco – the Greek – in Italy and Spain. After working as an icon painter in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, he left Crete in 1568 to study western-style painting in Venice. There he was influenced by the Venetian artists Titian and Tintoretto, embracing their rich colors and free, sketchy manner of painting. After about two years he moved to Rome, where artists such as Michelangelo had developed a new mannerist style in which realistic portrayals of the physical world were shunned in favor of a more subjective view, one that existed not in nature but in the intellect. In mannerist works, space was compressed, colors were bizarre, and figures became elongated and were intertwined in complex poses. Mannerism, from the Italian word for style, was highly self-conscious and artificial, emphasizing the artist’s virtuosity and stylishness. Its intellectual basis appealed to El Greco, who enjoyed the company of scholars and, himself, wrote treatises on art and architecture.

Failing to win major commissions in Italy, El Greco moved to Spain. By 1577 he was in Toledo, where he remained for the rest of his life and produced his most important works. In the relative isolation of Spain, he continued to explore and intensify the possibilities of mannerism while his contemporaries in Italy returned to more naturalistic styles.

El Greco and the Counter-Reformation

El Greco’s style, highly charged and hypnotic, was well suited to the aims of the Counter-Reformation. In the face of Protestant revolt, the Catholic church sought to reform its practices and reinforce belief in its doctrines. Spain put its vast resources – expanded by conquests in the New World – to the service of the church, and Toledo, because it was the seat of the archbishop, played an active role. El Greco, whose patrons were primarily learned churchmen, responded with intelligent and expressive presentations of traditional and newly affirmed Catholic beliefs. He is regarded as the last grand master of the Renaissance and the first great painter of the Golden Age.

Rediscovered in the late 19th century, celebrated by authors, acknowledged and embraced by the 20th century avant-garde, the artist has enjoyed the dual prestige of tradition and modernity, linking Titian to the Fauvists and Mannerism to Cubism, Expressionism, Vorticism and Abstraction up to the Action painting.


PAN has reserved a limited number of tickets for a 90-minute guided tour in French of this major exhibition 24€. Reserve your ticket above.


3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, Paris, 75008


Meet-up at the “Coupe-File” entrance (GALERIE SUD-EST / ENTREE PORTE H) 15 minutes before the visit.


Métro : Métro Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau (ligne 1 et ligne 13) or Métro Franklin D. Roosevelt (ligne 1 et ligne 9)
Bus : arrêt “Grand Palais” (Bus 72, bus 83 et bus 93), arrêt “Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau” (Bus 42, bus 73, bus 83 et bus 93) ou arrêt “Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées” (Bus 28, bus 42, bus 80, bus 83 et bus 93).
RER : RER Invalides (RER C)