The Burial of the Count of Orgaz (by AL)
Ten years after he arrives in Toledo the masterwork of El Greco emerges: "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz." The scene was commissioned by the Church of Saint Tomé at the request of the parish priest Don Andrés Núñez of Madrid.
The work is clearly divided into two parts. In the lower zone of the image one observes in the foreground the miracle with the figure of Don Gonzalo, in the center, at the moment of being placed in the tomb by the two saints: Saint Augustine – dressed as a bishop and holding him by the shoulders - and San Stephen – dressed as a deacon, representing in his chasuble his own martyrdom – and holding him by the feet. Next to them we find a boy dressed in black carrying a torch and wearing a kerchief bearing the date 1578; this leads us to believe that it is the son of Domenikos, Jorge Manuel, born in that year. To the right is located Don Andrés Núñez of Madrid, the parish priest of Saint Tomé, who opens his hands and raises his gaze toward heaven, attired in the white skirt of the trinitarians. Two more priests accompany him: one, with a black pluvial cape, reads pensively the Book of the Dead and the other carries the processional cross and has a distant gaze. To the left two figures appear with Franciscan and Augustinian habits. Behind these figures one sees the nobles of Toledo who are present at the miracle, dressed in black suits and white ruffs. Some characters, like Don Diego of Covarrubias and his brother Antonio, have been identified; a possible self-portrait in the figure that looks toward the viewer; Don Juan of Silva, Chief Proto-notary of Toledo appears to certify the miracle, in the center of the image, lifting his gaze toward the heavens.
The upper area is considered the area of the Gloria, toward which the soul of Don Gonzalo is directed, creating an upward movement toward the figure of Christ that crowns the composition. To his right we see the Virgin Mary, dressed in her traditional blue and red colors. In front of Mary is located a semi-nude figure who is identified as Saint John the Baptist, representing both the means of intercession and of salvation before God. In this way a Deësis is depicted, very typical of Byzantine art. In the left section of the Gloria we find Saint Peter, carrying the keys of the Church, next to cherubs, angels and other saints. On the right are Saint Paul, Saint Thomas - with an angle iron - and even Felipe II.
Between the two zones there are numerous connecting relationships, which insure that the work is not formed by two parts isolated from each other.
Entierro – funeral, burial
Encargo – commission, request
Párroco – parish priest
Depositar – deposit, put, place in
Casulla – chasuble (“vestidura que se pone el sacerdote sobre las demás para celebrar la misa, consistente en una pieza alargada, con una abertura en el centro para pasar la cabeza” - http://www.wordmagicsoft.com/dictionary/es-en/casulla.php)
Sujetar – to hold, clasp
Antorcha – torch, brand
Pluvial – pluvial, rain
Golilla – ruff (“adorno hecho de tela almidonada que llevaban los hombres alrededor del cuello” - http://www.wordmagicsoft.com/dictionary/es-en/golilla.php)
Escuadra – angle iron, angle bracket (“pieza de hierro u otro metal con dos lados en ángulo recto, para reforzar y asegurar uniones y ensamblajes” - http://www.wordmagicsoft.com/dictionary/es-en/escuadra.php)
Deesis – “In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis (Greek: δέησις, "prayer" or "supplication"), is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels. Mary and John, and any other figures, are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deesis
“The theme of the painting is inspired from a legend of the beginning of the 14th century. In 1312, a certain Don Gonzalo Ruíz, native of Toledo, and Señor of the town of Orgaz, died (his family later received the title of Count, by which he is generally and posthumously known). The Count of Orgaz was a pious man who, among other charitable acts, left a sum of money for the enlargement and adornment of the church of Santo Tomé (El Greco's parish church). … According to the legend, at the time he was buried, Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine descended in person from the heavens and buried him by their own hands in front of the dazzled eyes of those present.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burial_of_the_Count_of_Orgaz