El Greco 1541 – 1614

The Disrobing of Christ

oil on canvas (285 × 173 cm) — 1579 Museum Cathedral, Toledo

El Greco biography

This work is linked to Matthew 27:35

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When the group arrives at Golgotha, Jesus' robe is teared from his body. In the foreground a man drills a hole in the cross, in preparation for the nailing. Three women look on; probably the three Marys.

Jesus looks up to heaven with a serene expression, seemingly unimpressed by the surrounding crowd. Behind him two men argue about who should get the robe. A third man already tries to take it off.

In 1577 El Greco was commissioned to make an altarpiece for the sacristy of the Toledo Cathedral. He produced this large canvas, which still hangs in the sacristy today. In Spanish it is called El Expolio.

The artist used colour in a smart way to create a balanced composition. The red of the robe immediately catches the eye. It forms a triangle with the yellowish brown of the woman and the man with the drill.

The painting was cleaned in 2013, reviving the bright colours.

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