The Museo del Greco, after the 2011 refurbishment, seeks to explain the figure of El Greco through its historical and artistic context, and especially his last stage, to which most of the paintings exhibited in the Museum belong.
Therefore we introduce the stages and formation of El Greco through audiovisuals and texts in the first room of this part: "Formation of El Greco", and then focus on his figure in Toledo in the room called "El Greco in Toledo" also known as "the dais". On the upper floor we show the paintings by El Greco that belonged to the foundational part of this Museum: the apostolate, the tears of Saint Peter, the View and the Plane of Toledo and the portraits. As we go down the stairs we first access the Chapel and the altarpiece of San Bernardino, and then finish in the Followers rooms, where the influence that El Greco had on the Toledo painters of the 17th century is shown.
Throughout these rooms we find two spaces for temporary exhibitions, the area behind the Apostleship hall on the first floor, and the "library" space on the ground floor. In these spaces we try to place borrowed pieces that complement or give another vision to the works of the permanent exhibition, generally being small exhibitions in the area behind the Apostleship, and a guest piece in the space on the ground floor.
In the so-called El Greco before Toledo room, also known as the Formation of El Greco, we have created a didactic space already fully focused on the figure of El Greco. A map of the Mediterranean shows the painter’s life journey, and the videos show his most important works divided into stages, giving the visitor a quick idea of the changes in the painter's style over time.
The complete works of Xenophon is also exhibited, a book written in Greek that belonged to Antonio de Covarrubias, who ends up giving this book to his friend El Greco in whose library it remained until the painter's death. This book recalls not only the friendship between El Greco and Antonio de Covarrubias, but also El Greco's intellectual interest. This intellectuality is clearly reflected in the aesthetic and pictorial decisions he makes for his paintings.
In the so called El Greco in Toledo room, also known as the stage, the painter focuses on the city where he will end up dying in 1614: Toledo. The recreation of the dais has been part of the Museum since 1953, when, with the Vega-Inclán Foundations, the decision was made to recreate this typically feminine room of the Spanish houses of the 16th and 17th centuries.
In the current Museum we have chosen to keep the recreation to explain the painting of “The painter's family”, being an early 20th century copy. The scene in this painting takes place on a platform, and it is surely the family of Jorge Manuel Teotocópulos, son of El Greco. Thus we seek to show the presence of El Greco in Toledo in a very visual way, contextualizing this painting and explaining El Greco's family life.
In the Apostolate room, we exhibit most of the works of El Greco housed in our Museum: the thirteen paintings of the Apostolate, the Tears of Saint Peter, View and plan of Toledo and the portraits of Antonio and Diego de Covarrubias. These works are contrasted with three paintings from the Andalusian Baroque school to visually show the difference between the Greco Mannerist style and the Baroque style that was prevailing at that time in the Iberian Peninsula.
In addition, in recent years three works that also help explain the style of El Greco have been deposited in the Museum: Saint Simon and Saint James the Lesser of the Arteche Apostolate, belonging these to a smaller apostolate and painted by members of his workshop, that help explain the so-called El Greco series, and a small crucified attributed to El Greco and painted during his time in Roman.
At the beginning of the room, and due to the didactic nature of the new museography, an audiovisual explains El Greco's way of painting.
On the way back from the Apostolate we find the first area of temporary exhibitions, in which we usually place works of art that give another vision to the works of the Apostolate.
The so-called Chapel is the last of the recreations that the Museum has maintained, and serves both to keep the magnificent Mudejar coffered ceiling that the Marquis acquired in Valladolid, and to contextualize the altarpiece of San Bernardino. This altarpiece by El Greco was made for the chapel of the Franciscan College of San Bernardino, and is exhibited in its original altarpiece, also designed by the creatn painter in an Italianising style.
The recreation of the chapel is completed with a series of sculptures: the Sorrowful, from the 15th century, and the couple formed by the Pregnant Annunciation, from the 14th century; in addition to the votive lamp, and several works from the Toledo school from the beginning of the 17th century.
The next room, known as the Library, is another of the temporary exhibition areas, and we usually place a guest piece to dialogue with the altarpiece San Bernardino.
As we leave the Library we go through the area called El Greco’s workshop, an area that links the Library with the Followers room and where we wanted to explain how the ateliers at that time worked, and specifically El Greco’s workshop, strongly influenced by the Italian ones. These studios not only helped to prepare the canvas and pigments and completed the paintings, but also gilded and surely created the architectures of altarpieces and sculptures designed by El Greco.
The Museum also shows a facsimile of one of the few engravings commissioned by El Greco to Diego de Astor. With these engravings, El Greco wanted to spread several of his most famous compositions beyond the city of Toledo.
Continuing along this line, we enter the room of El Greco after El Greco also called the Followers. In this room we show paintings by artists who worked in El Greco’s workshop and paintings that continued his style as well as compositions created during the 17th century. The religious compositions of El Greco were quite successful in Toledo in the 17th century, especially his compositions of saints such as San Francisco, of which we have several examples.
We would also like to highlight other works in this room such as the San Basilio painted in a naturalistic style that follows the iconography and composition of San Ildefonso by El Greco, or copies of paintings by El Greco such as the Crucified, San Luis, the Expolio or San Juan Evangelista and San Francisco. of Assisi, all of them painted in the 17th century due to the fame that El Greco's paintings achieved in the city.
At the end of the room, the Museum exhibits the Baroque copy of Cardinal Niño de Guevara, and the painting of Saint Maties, both by the best painter in El Greco’s workshop: Luis Tristán, to whom the last room of the Museum is dedicated.
In the room dedicated to Luis Tristan the Museum exhibits six works by this painter in addition to the cardinal's portrait from the previous room. Luis Tristán is the only painter from the Cretan workshop whose personality has transcended in the history of painting. The time that Tristán spent with El Greco would have a profound influence on his artistic evolution, but his painting is also the result of the absorption of other influences throughout his short career in Toledo, Madrid, and Rome.
Thus, with a Baroque painting with strong Italian influences, he follows the trend of compositions and models designed by El Greco in a personal and brilliant way.