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Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.28  suppl.11 Bloemfontein  2008


El Greco's representation of mystical ecstasy



Estelle Alma Maré

Estelle Alma Maré, Research Fellow, Department of Architecture, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria




This article deals with one of El Greco's most original inventions, namely the gesture expressing mystical ecstasy in angelic and human figures. It is introduced with a brief explanation of figural representation in Renaissance painting which was achieved by applying the premises of rhetoric in a visual way, that is by the means of the expressive gestures of figures. In El Greco's later paintings, which were influenced by Neo-Platonic spiritual ideals, not only the figures of the angels - who are links between heaven and earth - embody spiritual ecstasy, but also human aspirants are portrayed as losing themselves in an ecstatic experience. These figures, merging themselves in a divine vision, are depicted with distinctive vertical forms, gesturing heavenwards in a specific way. The ecstatically gesturing figures are selected from El Greco's most distinctive paintings.

Keywords: El Greco, Mystical Ecstasy, Neo-Platonism, Art and spirituality

Trefwoorde: El Greco, Mistieke ekstase, Neo-Platonisme, Kuns en spiritualiteit



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