"The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete"

By Milliner, Matthew J. | New Criterion, January 2010 | Go to article overview

"The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete"


Milliner, Matthew J., New Criterion


"The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete"

The Onassis Center, New York.

November 17, 2009-February 27, 2010

When confronted with icons, educated viewers rarely know what they're looking at. The problem is not a lack of education, but the nature of the one most of us received. Giorgio Vasari, the father of art history, was right about many things, but he began his Lives of the Artists by taking aim at the "incompetent ... crude, stiff, and mediocre ... dead tradition of the Greeks." We know better now: In the last half-century, Byzantine art historians have permanently altered our understanding of neglected Eastern contributions to Italian art. Recently reconsidered Byzantine frescoes and the discovery of icons at St. Catherine's Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai, show that Byzantine painters in fact anticipated Cimabue and Giotto's innovations centuries beforehand. Historical circumstances, however, permitted these images little chance to influence the late-blooming discipline of art history, an opportunity which fell to Vasari instead.

New York City has been part of the reappraisal of the Byzantine tradition. In 1944, the Metropolitan Musuem of Art was surprised by the popularity of its show displaying copies of the mosaics of Hagia Sofia, one of which still quietly overlooks the medieval sculpture gallery. Since then, the museum has celebrated Byzantine splendor with three blockbuster exhibits: "The Age of Spirituality" (1977), "The Glory of Byzantium" (1997), and "Byzantium: Faith and Power" (2004). Sensitive to the religious nature of these items, the opening of the latter even featured the blessing of an Orthodox priest, incense and all. But what makes "The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete" so unique is its chronology. Most previous shows have concluded their survey of the Byzantine aesthetic with the end of the Empire in 1453. But "The Origins of El Greco" breaks these academic bonds entirely--1453 may have marked the end of Byzantine political power, but it was a new beginning for the icon. Recent research in Venetian archives have revealed how thousands of icons were pumped into Western territories from Crete, pouring into Venice at the height of the Renaissance and flooding into Florence under Vasari's very nose. The icon, we now know, never disappeared; it was only ignored.

As art objects from American museums hasten, under threat of lawsuit, back to Europe, it is reassuring to see the temporary reverse, thanks to magnanimous loans from Heraklion, Athens, St. Petersburg, and Corfu extended to this exhibition. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"The Origins of El Greco: Icon Painting in Venetian Crete"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.