Portrait of the monk Ortensio Paravisino by El Greco

Portrait of the monk Ortensio Paravisino by El Greco

Painting of the Spanish painter El Greco “Portrait of the Monk Ortensio Paravisino”. The size of the picture is 112 x 86 cm, canvas, oil. Between the images of the saints El Greco and his portrait works there is not always a sharp fundamental line. And in the portrait the artist by subjective sharpening of certain traits of character, then passionately impetuous, then more deeply contemplative, sought to reveal the spiritual inner world of the human person.

However, if the interpretation of images of saints, each of which most often embodies one of these types of character, is known for its uni-planarity, then in the portrait it is enriched by subtle and complex nuances. To a great extent, the specificity of the genre itself, which is associated with the depiction of a concrete human individuality, is affected here.

Greco’s portraits are much more vital. Not all of them are of equal value. In some of them, the ideal image of a nobleman of his time, built as a master in the framework of a kind of canon, prevails. In others, subjective perception leads to a distortion of nature. But in the best portraits of Greco, when the very direction of his interpretation coincides with the inner essence of the depicted faces, the artist achieves a great and, in fact, real psychological expressiveness. Some kind of sadness fanned the image in the portrait of an unknown person in the Prado. Everything is hidden, extinguished in this gaunt, narrow face, and only beautiful sorrowful eyes are full of damp glare and a look of them, amazing in its emotional agitation, as if it reflects in itself a complex spiritual movement.

The noble intellectuality of the appearance is emphasized in the portrait of the mystic poet, friend and admirer of Greco monk Ortensio Paravisino. He has a moving, painful face, a relaxed posture, a living gesture of nervous hands. The artist managed to create a very clean and bright image of Ortensio Paravisino. His spirituality subtly corresponds to an exceptionally free, pictorial manner built on a combination of black and white stains. The best portraits of El Greco are marked by the artist’s passionate interest in the intense life of the human spirit. This quality was a great objective achievement of the Spanish painter.

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