An El Greco acquired by the Onassis Foundation

Domenico Theotokopoulos,
known as El Greco (c. 1541-1614)
The Crowning of the Virgin, 1603-1605
Oil on canvas - 57.2 x 76.2 cm
Athens, Onassis Foundation
Photo : Onassis Foundation

4/11/08 — Acquisition — Athens, Onassis Foundation — This painting had once been in the collection of President Marcos, the Philippine dictator. The United States had seized the work in 1986 and sold it in 1991 at Sotheby’s New York for $2,100,000.

The canvas illustrates a recurring theme in the artist’s works [1]. The modello shows only slight differences compared to the final painting, which initially decorated the half-dome in the apse of the chapel at the Hospital de la Caridad in Illescas (a town in the province of Toledo) alongside an Annunciation and a Nativity [2]. The building, dating from between 1592 and 1600, houses a significant number of works by El Greco : besides these three canvases, no longer in their original hanging places, there is a Virgin of Mercy which was part of the same commission and a Saint Ildefonso, probably executed earlier.

The work will be on loan to the Greek National Gallery in Athens which already holds three other paintings by the artist. The Foundation will then exhibit it in a new cultural center, the “Onassis House for Arts and Letters” which is due to open in the Greek capital in 2010 with the purpose of showcasing Hellenic culture (it will include a theatre, an auditorium, a library, an exhibition hall…) [3].

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 4 novembre 2008


[1] Museo de Santa Cruz in Toledo, Spain (1591-1592), Prado Museum (1591) and church of San José in Toledo (1597-1599)…

[2] Paul Guinard, Tiziana Frati, Tout l’œuvre peint de Gréco, Paris, 1971, p. 114-115).

[3] Thanks to Martine Thoreau

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