Saint John the Evangelist

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Saint John the Evangelist, ca. 1594-1604. Oil on canvas, Museo del Greco, Toledo.

Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1541-1614), nicknamed El Greco (‘The Greek’) was a painter, sculptor and architect of post-Byzantine Venice. He was born on the Greek island of Crete and trained as a traditional icon painter. In his early thirties he moved from the flat, symbolic techniques characteristic of Byzantine art to a singular and revolutionary style foreshadowing the Cubist and Expressionist movements of the early 20th century. In this work, the apostle John is shown as a graceful, slightly effeminate young man. His right hand holds a gold chalice filled with poisoned wine which transforms into a snake as he raises the cup to drink; the other hand is turned palm up in a gesture of receiving.
Apostle John by El Greco

A person deemed holy by a religious tradition, especially in Roman Catholicism.

Relating to the Byzantine empire, which ruled the Eastern Mediterranean from the fifth century CE to 1453; its capital was Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

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