El Greco (1541-1614)
Saint Phillips holds the cross he was crucified at, the crosspiece is barely seen. The Saint gestores to his left, toward another of the Apostoles, in a very expressive gesticulation. The cross is his most common attribute. According to traditions, the Saint was crucified face down, like Saint Peter, and bound with rope instead of nails.
The technical studies and analysis of the work tells us this painting, as well as the paintings of Saint Matthew, Saint Jude, Saint Andrew, and Saint Simon, are in an initial execution phase.
Throughout the 16th century we find in Toledo interesting pictorical representations of the 12 apostles. These creations started with the predella of the main altarpiece in the church of Saint Andrew, a work signed by Juan de Borgoña and Antonio de Cremontes, in which the apotles are depicted half-length, in an attitude of dialogue and with a golden brackground. In El Greco's last years the artist renewed the meaning of these series and turned them into a novel production that was no longer destined to occupy a place in the altarpieces. He designed 13 individual paintings with the images of Christ the Saviour and the 12 apostles, cut out on neutral backgrounds, endowed with monumental form and psychological expresiveness. The apostles are covered with tunic and cloak and are accompanied by identifying attributes of each character. In addition to these attributes, El Greco envisaged, for each apostle, chromatic combinations for their clothes and their own gestures that would become codes of identification of the characters.