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Gallery 5

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of painter El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541–1614), rediscover three paintings by this enduringly popular artist from the Fine Arts Museums’ holdings. Hung together for the first time in over a decade, El Greco’s Saint Francis Venerating the Crucifix (ca. 1595), Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1600), and Saint Peter (ca. 1605–1610) are supplemented by a selection of drawings by the Spanish-born painter Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652) from the Museums’ Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts.

About the Artist

Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco (1541–1614), was born in Crete, where he trained as painter. By 1568, he was living in Venice, and in 1570 he traveled to Rome and studied the work of Raphael and Michelangelo. Despite his respect for these masters, El Greco preferred the richer colors and freer paint handling of Venetian artists such as Titian and Tintoretto. Unable to secure commissions in Rome, El Greco left Italy in 1576 for Toledo, Spain, where he remained until his death. There he created paintings for local religious institutions, as well as privately commissioned portraits. His work increasingly evoked visionary experiences, encompassing lurid colors, energetic and elongated forms, and eccentric spatial constructions.

The year 2014 marks the four-hundredth anniversary of El Greco’s death. The Legion of Honor is fortunate to hold the largest group of the artist’s paintings on the West Coast. Two of these works, Saint Francis Venerating the Crucifix (ca. 1595) and Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1600), are considered to be among El Greco’s greatest masterpieces. The painting of Saint Francis is of particular importance to San Francisco: its gift to the museum by the Kress Foundation in 1961 was intended to honor the city named for this saint.


Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission to the museum.

Adults $10, seniors 65+ $7, students with current ID $6, youths 6–17 $6, members and children 5 and under free. Prices subject to change without notice.

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