[Theotokopoulos, Domenikos [Dominico ; Dominikos ; Menegos ]]
(b Candia [now Herakleion], Crete, c. 1541; d Toledo, April 7, 1614).
Greek painter, designer, and engraver, active in Italy and Spain. One of the most original and interesting painters of 16th-century Europe, he transformed the Byzantine style of his early paintings into another, wholly Western manner. He was active in his native Crete, in Venice, and Rome, and, during the second half of his life, in Toledo. He was renowned in his lifetime for his originality and extravagance and provides one of the most curious examples of the oscillations of taste in the evaluation of a painter, and of the changes of interpretation to which an artist’s work can be submitted.
El Greco appears to have belonged to a Greek Orthodox—more than to a Catholic Greek—family of officials who worked for the Venetian colonial service; his father was a tax-collector, and an elder brother combined this activity with that of trader and privateer. It is not known with whom El Greco trained, although ...