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D. Theotokopoulos between Venice and Rome

The cycle of Greek exhibitions begins in Crete, birthplace of Domenicos Theotokopoulos. In Heraklion, an exhibition entitled D. Theotokopoulos between Venice and Rome is being held from 21 June to 25 October at the Historical Museum of Crete, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum.

From a very young age, Domenicos Theotokopoulos excelled as an artist in Venetian Candia (present-day Heraklion), at the time the Cretan School was at its zenith. Thus equipped, the young Cretan left in 1576 for Venice, the mother city, where he attended the workshop of the famed Titian. In 1570 he moved to Rome, remaining until at least 1573. In 1577 he settled in Toledo, where he was to stay until the end of his life. It was then that he created his most important works.

The exhibition at the Historical Museum of Crete is dedicated to the artist’s Italian period. Taking the two paintings on permanent exhibition at the Historical Museum of Crete as its focal point – View of Mt. Sinai and the Monastery of St. Catherine (c. 1570, owned by the Andreas and Maria Kalokerinos Foundations) and The Baptism of Christ (c. 1569, owned by the Municipality of Heraklion) – the broader artistic milieu is recreated. Relevant works from 16th century Cretan icon painting are on display, as well as similarly themed works by Western artists. The human milieu surrounding Theotokopoulos is recreated in parallel, with his noted patrons, and the major artists he became associated with during his time in Italy, at a time when the recognition, support and protection of prominent personages was essential to an artist’s survival and advancement. The historical figures presented in the exhibition are the powerful cardinal Alessandro Farnese, at whose palace on Rome El Greco stayed for two years; his librarian Fulvio Orsini; and the famed miniaturist Giulio Clovio, who, in a letter to Cardinal Farnese, described Theotokopoulos as “a rare case in painting”.

The exhibition presents major paintings and engravings from museums and private collections in Greece and abroad: the Galleria Uffizi (Florence); Pinacoteca Vaticana (Rome); Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich); Kupferstichkabinett (Berlin); Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica (Rome); the Benaki Museum; the Byzantine and Christian Museum (Athens);the Gennadius Library; the Zosimaia Library; the Archdiocese of Crete; the Marianna Latsi Collection. Works to be exhibited for the first ever time in Greece include The Adoration of the Shepherds held by the Agnes Etherington Art Center (Kingston, Ontario, Canada Καναδάς); Portrait of Guilio Clovio by Sofonisba Anguissola, from the Malgeri-Zeri Collection (Rome); and a Portrait of Fulvio Orsini by an unknown artist, from the Uffizi Gallery Museum (Florence). The exhibition is complemented by a wealth of archive material, books and documentary evidence.

The exhibition was curated by Nicos Hadjinicolau, Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Crete, and designed by museologist-architect Lena Katsanika-Stephanou and architect Alexandra Sagia. Preparations for the exhibition at the Historical Museum of Crete were co-ordinated by Museum Director Eva Grammatikaki.

This project is incorporated in the European Union NSRF and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The Municipality of Heraklion assisted the Society of Cretan Historical Studies in essential activities enabling the exhibition to be held at the Historical Museum. Restoration costs for one of the works on loan for the exhibition was borne by local residents Stelios Alexakis (VINOBON Ltd.), Miltiadis Karatzis (ΚΑRATZIS S.A.), Stelios Yannikakis (S. Yannikakis S.A.), Ioannis Papakaliatis (PAPAKALIATIS S.A.), Dimitios Toskoudis (SUNTOS A.E.) and LIDL HELLAS Ltd.

The Benaki Museum and the Historical Museum also thank their sponsors, Alpha Bank and A. & M. Kalokerinos Foundations respectively, for their significant contribution.

Following presentation at the Historical Museum of Crete, the exhibition will go on show at the Benaki Museum, Pireos St., Athens, from 20th November 2014 to 1st March 2015.

The exhibition will be officially opened at the Historical Museum at 8:00pm on Friday, 20th June 2014 by El Greco Year Organizing Committee President Lina Mendoni, General Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, with HE Mr. Alfonso Lucini Mateo, Spanish Ambassador to Greece, in attendance. The Benaki Museum is to be represented by its director, Professor Angelos Delivorias.

Admission to the temporary exhibition D. Theotokopoulos between Venice and Rome is free, as is attendance at sessions of the international academic symposium on El Greco: The Cretan Years.