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Fountain Court

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The Apparition of the Virgin to St. Hyacinth

ca. 1605 - 1610
39 3/8 x 24 3/8 in. (100 x 61.9 cm)

Domenikos Theotocopoulos (aka El Greco)
Spain (Crete, ca. 1541 - 1614)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1938.28
Location: Currently on view
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In this painting, El Greco expresses spiritual drama by his distinctive use of line, light and color. St. Hyacinth kneels in awed wonder before a mystical vision of the Virgin and Child. The scene takes place in a church interior with pillars and a patterned floor; a shadowy, monochrome figure or statue of a bishop, identifiable by his hooked staff, stands behind the enraptured saint.

According to Christian legend, Hyacinth, a Polish Dominican priest who lived from 1185-1287, witnessed a miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary on the feast day of her Assumption—the day she was “taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.” In 1594, shortly before El Greco painted this work, Hyacinth was granted sainthood by Pope Clement VIII.

El Greco (“The Greek”) is the popular name of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, an artist born in Crete but who lived and studied in Venice and Rome. In 1575, he moved to Toledo, Spain, the center of the Catholic Church’s Counter-Reformation activities. During his career, El Greco developed a unique and dramatically spiritual style of painting that is often considered the forerunner of Baroque art.

Henri Rouart, Paris; Henri Rouart sale, Paris, première vente, December 9-11, 1912, lot 43; M. Knoedler and Co., New York, in 1915; J. Horace Harding, New York, purchased in 1916; Estate of Mrs. Horace J. Harding through 1938; M. Knoedler and Co., New York, in 1938; purchased by the Gallery in 1938

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