El Greco (1541-1614)
Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) was a prominent member of the Franciscan order and a notable preacher. He forgo the bishoprics of Siena, Ferrara and Urbino, the three mitres at his feet allude to this fact. El Greco adds at the back two buildings, no longer in the city, that scholars have identified as the convent of San Bartolome de la Vega and the Chapel of Montero. The use of buildings and landscapes from Toledo, even in figures that were never in such city, can be seen in various compositions of El Greco.
This work is one of the most significant examples of the final production of El Greco, characterized by figures that are disproportionately elongated, enhanced by a very low vision of the horizon. The colors used - black, blue, white, ocher and carmine - were applied with special precision and mastery over the brown preparation layer that serves as a chromatic agglutinator.
The altarpiece of Saint Bernardine was commissioned in 1603 by Juan Bravo de Acuña and Luis de Beluga for the chapel of the former University College of Saint Bernardine in Toledo, and is a good example of the altarpiece activity of El Greco and his workshop. The architectural composition of the altarpiece is probably due to El Greco and is clearly inspired by Italy; the execution of the altarpiece was also probably done inside El Greco's workshop.