(b Candia [now Iraklion], Crete, c.1541; d Toledo, 7 Apr. 1614). Cretan-born painter, sculptor, and architect who settled in Spain and is regarded as the first great genius of the Spanish School. His real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos and it was thus that he signed his paintings throughout his life, always in Greek characters, and sometimes followed by Kres (Cretan). To avoid the tongue-twisting name, he was known in Spain as Domenico Griego or simply El Griego (the Greek). Evidently it was not until after his lifetime that the curious form ‘El Greco’ was adopted (curious because ‘El’ is Spanish and ‘Greco’ is Italian). Little is known of his early years, and only a few works survive by him in the Byzantine tradition of icon painting, notably the signed Dormition of the Virgin discovered in 1983 (church of the Dormition, Syros).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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