El Greco 1541 – 1614

The Fifth Seal

oil on canvas (222 × 193 cm) — ca. 1610 Museum Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

El Greco biography

This work is linked to Revelation 6:11

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Tags: Apocalypse

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The Lamb of God has opened the first four seals of the seven that close the Book, releasing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalyps.

Here the fifth seal is opened. To the left is John, in whose vision all this happens. He sees the souls of Christian martyrs, women to the left and men to the right, who wonder when their deaths will be revenged. The answer is that they will need to be patient. A cherub hands them white robes - white being the color of salvation.

The painting is part of a series that John made for the chapel of a hospital in Toledo, where he lived. It used to be over 3 meters high. It's influence is said to have reached into the 20th century when Picasso made his Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907).

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