OIL PAINTING: Portrait of a Cardinal, c.1600
The sitter is usually identified as Cardinal Don Fernando Nino de Guevera (1541-1609), Grand Inquisitor and, from 1601, Archbishop of Seville. Portrait of a Cardinal was executed c. 1600 by El Greco, when Inquisitor-General, and certainly before he became Archbishop of Seville. He is one of a number of eminent ecclesiastics of Toledo portrayed by El Greco, and it is one of his finest portraits. The splendour and richness of colour is appropriate to the character and rank of the sitter. The frontal turn of the pose concentrates attention on the figure. El Greco suggests the cardinal's personality through the emphasis on his prominent glasses, the compulsive gesture of his left hand, the animated, nervous brushwork, and the singular colour range. Portrait of a Cardinal by El Greco is signed on the creased paper on the floor.
This celebrated painting of El Greco - a landmark in the history of European portraiture - has become synonymous not only with El Greco but with Spain and the Spanish Inquisition.