St. Luke
St. Luke

St. Luke

El Greco (Greek, 1541-1614)
Workshop of El Greco (Greek, 1541-1614)

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When El Greco went to Spain in 1577, it was probably with the intention of seeking the patronage of King Philip II. His unusual style failed to please the king and El Greco instead relied for his livelihood on commissions for altarpieces and church decorations.

El Greco frequently produced replicas of his most popular compositions, including his paintings of Apostles. He probably kept a set in his studio so that prospective clients could order copies, executed either by the master or an assistant, depending upon what they were willing to pay. The inventory of El Greco’s studio upon his death included "twelve heads of Apostles with Christ."

Parish church of Almadrones (Guadalajara), Spain, until 1936 or immediately after{1}; removed to the Fuerte of Guadalajara (former convent of San Francisco) until 1941{2}; at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, for conservation treatment, 1941-45; restituted to the bishopric of Sigüenza in 1945, sold and legally exported in 1952{3}; (Newhouse Galleries, Inc. New York, New York); Dr. George Henry Alexander Clowes [1877-1958], Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1952{4}; The Clowes Fund Collection, Indianapolis, 1958-present (C10034).

{1} Eyewitness accounts confirm that prior to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), this painting, along with others from the same series, was in the parish church of Almadrones (Guadalajara). The American hispanist, Harold Wethey, in a letter to Dr. G.H.A. Clowes wrote: "Dr. F. Layna a native of the province of Guadalajara and knows this whole region. He visited the church at Almadrones before the civil war and saw the apostles when they still hung in the church. He says that the pictures were high on the walls and hard to see. He intended to go back and investigate them further, but the civil war came and he never had another opportunity" (IMA, Clowes Collection Archive).
{2} The Marqués de Lozoya, Director General de Bellas Artes from 1939 to 1951, had the Almadrones paintings taken to the Prado for restoration: "El Sr. Comandante del 'Fuerte de Guadalajara' halló en los desvanes del mismo NUEVE lienzos enrollados los que fueron toscamente restaurados por un sargento aficionado a la pintura, y después se colocaron en un sitio alto y muy poco visible. En una de las visitas que a este centro realizó el Sr. Marqués de Lozoya pudo observar que los aludidos lienzos eran auténticos "Grecos" proponiendo y consiguiendo del señor comandante fueran traidos a los talleres del Prado, para su adecuada restauración como, en efecto, así se hizo. Dichos cuadros representan "San Juan", "Santiago", "San Felipe", "San Simón", "Santo Tomás", "San Bartolomé", "San Pablo", "El Salvador" y "San Andrés" (Declaration of Francisco J. Sánchez Cantón to the Museum's Patronato in 1944). The document is included in the unpublished catalogue of paintings by El Greco and made available to the IMA by Leticia Ruiz in November 2005. As Ruiz observed, the word "NUEVE" in capitals means that the series was not complete when it arrived at the Prado. The paintings were received by the Prado on September 10, 1941: "Museo Nacional del Prado. He recibido del señor Teniente Coronel Primer Jefe de los Talleres y Centro electrotécnico de Ingenieros de Guadalajara NUEVE LIENZOS del Apostolado del GRECO, que entrega a este Museo del Prado según órdenes recibidas y que serán restaurados en el mismo. Madrid a 10 de septiembre de 1941." Expediente de restauración de nueve lienzos del Greco (apostolado) propiedad de la Agrupación de Ingenieros de Guadalajara (10 de septiembre) Año 1941. (Archivo del Museo del Prado).
{3} Five paintings (including this one) were restituted to the bishop of Siguenza in July 14, 1945 and subsequently sold. The four remaining paintings in the series were acquired by the Spanish Government for the Prado Museum (Archivo del Museo del Prado, caja 79). A letter from the director of the Prado, Fernando Álvarez de Sotomayor (Madrid, November 21, 1952) states that the paintings were "shipped out of Spain this year." (IMA. Clowes Collection Archive).
{4} Invoice dated November 6, 1952 (IMA, Clowes Collection Archive).

Object Information

El Greco (Greek, 1541-1614)
Workshop of El Greco (Greek, 1541-1614)
creation date
about 1610-1614
oil on canvas
28-1/4 x 21-5/8 in. (canvas)
39 x 31-7/8 x 3-3/4 in. (framed/glazed)
mark descriptions
Inscribed initials in black oil paint, lower left: D.T.
accession number
credit line
The Clowes Collection
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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