But Western painting is only one element in El Greco's achievement, which is an astounding transcultural assimilation, forged on the anvil of an unusually strong personality. Arrogance is often cited as his most salient characteristic, with litigiousness, which cost him royal and church patronage and made him dependent on private patrons, a close second.
His habit of repetition reflects, in part, his need to meet the demands of those clients. It is also a result of his early training as a Byzantine icon painter on Crete, then a Venetian colony, where he was born in 1541 and lived until he immigrated to Venice in 1567. In Byzantine culture -- even late Venetian-influenced Byzantine culture -- icons were perceived less as images of holy beings than as holy beings themselves. Repetition was not a stylistic tic but an article of faith.
El Greco spent three years in Venice, where he is thought to have been briefly employed in Titian's workshop, and where he soaked up further lessons about color and brushwork from the examples of Tintoretto and Veronese. Then it was on to Rome and the influences of Michelangelo and Raphael. Seven years later, having alienated a crucial patron, he moved to Spain; in 1577 he settled in Toledo, where he eventually established a busy workshop of his own and died in 1614.
In addition to three cultures and countries, El Greco's career spanned two apprenticeships, numerous stylistic phases, at least two faiths and several artistic and intellectual milieus.
His oeuvre was neglected by scholars until the late 19th century, but since then it has served so many different art historical agendas that its shifting lines of argument and interpretations make the machinations of the field itself unusually clear.
With the rise of European nationalism in the first three decades of the 20th century, conflicting claims were made for his importance as an exemplar of Spanish painting (the founder of the Spanish school); an Italian, possibly Mannerist, master; and, from the Greek viewpoint, as the last and one of the greatest Byzantine icon painters. Different factions of the early modernists embraced him as a precursor: as proto-Expressionist, proto-Cubist (Picasso), proto-abstract and the first ''pure painter'' (in the words of the art critic Roger Fry).
Explanations for the distortions in his images of figures have included madness, social deviance (a euphemism for homosexuality) and hashish. Especially stubborn was the myth of El Greco's astigmatism -- that he painted the world as he actually saw it -- leading at least one art historian to note that in that case all his patrons in Toledo must have had it, too.
To some art historians, El Greco is the interpreter of an inward-turning mysticism that sprang up in Toledo during his lifetime and that emphasized private prayer. For others he remains the quintessential painter of a more public-minded Counter-Reformation ideology.
Indeed, the theme of the purification of the temple became popular in the 16th century as a metaphor for Roman Catholicism's struggle against the heresy of Martin Luther and his followers. El Greco's version is a tumultuous bit of stagecraft depicting a vengeful Jesus slashing his way through a roiling crowd, driving the money-changers and sundry merchants from God's house.
At the Frick, the four ''Purification'' paintings are lined up on a single wall and can be taken in with a simple turn of the head. Essentially, they show El Greco tentatively approaching the innovations of the high Renaissance, passing through its influences and then out the other side. He discards its ideals and retrieves some of the expressive, abstracting tendencies of Byzantine art, molding them into a personal, idiosyncratic style.
To see these paintings together is a little like attending the same play performed by a succession of increasingly impressive actors. There are changes everywhere -- in the setting, the props and the roles of the minor players, as well as in the intensity and tone of the central action. This action radiates from the figure of Jesus, about to bring down a raised whip on a terrified male figure seen from the back; the man, whose robe has fallen from his shoulders, lifts his arm in self-protection.
In the first version, painted in 1567-70 in Venice, El Greco is a struggling novice who musters his figures into a congealed, darkly mottled mass. The cowering figure -- call him the First Terrified Man -- seems split in two, the lower half of his body appearing to occupy a completely different spatial plane from the upper half. The foreground is cluttered with an array of endearing but distracting details: a large basket of fresh rolls, a cage of pigeons in the care of a reclining woman, two rabbits sniffing a bag of spilled and broken oysters, and a hog-tied lamb, a symbol of the Eucharist. What may be a money box teeters precariously on a step, a clumsy attempt at spatial illusion. Statues of putti look down from niches on either side of an arch.
The second painting, done in Rome a few years later, demonstrates a confident command of the basics as well as attention to Michelangelo's ''Last Judgment'' (especially in the figure of Jesus) and to Raphael's ''School of Athens.'' The body of the First Terrified Man is now in one piece, and his robe flattens dramatically against his body, as if from the power of Jesus' anger. The foreground has been swept clear. (The lamb of the first painting reappears in two versions of El Greco's ''Adoration of the Shepherds,'' now hanging in the Met.)
The oddity here is a little show of thanks: four onlookers inserted in the lower right corner who are thought to represent Titian; Michelangelo; Giulio Clovio, a Croatian-born painter who urged El Greco to come to Rome; and either Raphael or Correggio. And on the arch in the background, the putti have given way to little reliefs of biblical scenes that echo the Purification: the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the story of Abraham and Isaac.
The third version, which belongs to the Frick, resurrects the purification theme after a quarter of a century. Painted in Toledo about 1600, it reflects El Greco's arrival at a personal style and the birth of his signature tall, slimmed-down figures. The scene has an eerie sense of silence and suspension, as if it were being performed in slow motion. Elegance prevails: for example, a man at the far left of the painting, pudgy and hefting a barrel in the previous versions, now cuts the figure of a dapper courtier and carries a little wine jug.
In this version, vengeance is undercut by gentleness, expressed most overtly by the fluttering delicacy of the many gesturing hands. In particular, Jesus' right hand, previously barely noticeable at his side, can now be seen just above the raised hand of a fallen man, as if in blessing. The woman and the crate of pigeons, stage left, have been written out of the script, replaced by a wonderful bent-over figure of a man in a copper-colored tunic who struggles with a heavy box, perhaps of money, and who will probably remain unblessed.
The fourth painting, created in 1610-14, clearly takes the third as a model, but its many modifications indicate an artist continually rethinking even his most familiar compositions. The setting is now a closed interior, which makes the space more charged. A reeling figure in red, heavily brushed with white, intensifies the agitation at the painting's left edge. The scene of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is now a tiny plaque below a niche that contains a full-size male nude. It suggests a Greek statue of the Classical period, subjected to El Greco's indelible wavering style.
Across from the ''Purification'' paintings are the three portraits of St. Jerome as a stern, hypersensitive maroon-robed cardinal, all painted in Toledo after 1590. Rather than a pattern of evolution, the portraits tell a tale of deliberate repetition -- the Frick's is the original -- probably for the sake of private clients. The differences here are more subtle, more about nuances of color, psychology and paint handling and more about connoisseurship than iconography or structure. But again, they reflect the painter's ability to copy himself yet do it differently each time.
The portraits represent not only the deepening mysticism of El Greco's late work, but also his ability to adjust his distorting style to the creation of a distinct, imposing individual personality. Divested of his usual study, books and lion, St. Jerome looks up from his Bible with penetrating intelligence and slightly weary skepticism.
In his catalog essay, Mr. Brown, the art historian, suggests that El Greco may have identified with Jerome, quoting a description of this saint as ''a displaced loner whose ties with the ecclesiastical hierarchy were irregular and often turbulent.'' Mr. Brown also notes that El Greco was able to undermine the Renaissance system of artistic representation because, as an outsider, ''he never fully believed in it.''
In El Greco scholarship, the attention to the artist's Byzantine phase is on the rise. His career has an interesting parallel in the story of another proud, truculent non-European painter: the Abstract Expressionist Arshile Gorky, who came from Armenia to New York and transformed an established style, Cubism, into a personal vocabulary haunted by memories of Byzantine icons. Like El Greco's, Gorky's origins are the subject of new scrutiny, further eroding the splendid isolation of the history of Western painting.
''El Greco: Themes and Variations'' remains at the Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, Manhattan, (212) 288-0700, through July 29.Continue reading the main story
For over a century scholars have considered whether or not this sympathetic portrait of an old man is a self-portrait by El Greco. Lafond (1906) described the seemingly Romantic notion as at best a plausible hypothesis, and a number of more recent scholars (for example, Wethey 1962) have rejected the idea, mainly on the basis of comparisons with presumed self-portraits inserted by El Greco into several of his major religious pictures (see also Christiansen 2003). In those examples, the figure bears some resemblance to the sitter here, but seems more virile, and has a white beard and hair. Nonetheless, some scholars have continued to maintain the identification of the sitter with El Greco. A portrait of El Greco, perhaps by the artist himself but conceivably by his son Jorge Manuel, is listed in the 1621 inventory of the latter’s possession (no. 189, "un retrato de mi P[adr]e, con su quadro guarnecido" [a portrait of my father, with its decorated frame]).The question is complicated by the fact that the artist approached his sitters, many of whom he had knew personally, with considerable empathy and a searching interest in human character. Thus, the impression that El Greco put much of himself into this portrait has at least some poetic truth. For many viewers from about 1900 to the present day, this image reveals the painter himself as a soulful person, and in this may be taken as a representative example of Spanish art and culture. The portrait has long been familiar from its reproduction on a Spanish postage stamp (and, in 2014, one issued by Greek Cyprus), and in books on El Greco ranging from the first (Cossío 1908) to the most recent scholarly monograph (Marías 2013).
There is general agreement that the painting dates from the 1590s, with a date of about 1595–1600 being most frequently proposed. As Christiansen (2003) notes, a specialist in Spanish costume considers a dating to the 1590s "supported by the width of the ruff the sitter wears." However, very similar ruffs date from the previous decade as well (as seen in El Greco’s famous Burial of the Count of Orgaz of 1586–88 in the church of Santo Tomé, Toledo). Another consideration—allowing a later date—is that one often finds ruffs that were ten to fifteen years out of fashion in formal portraits of older people dating from the later 1500s or the first half of the 1600s. In any case, both the style of the painting and that of his collar favor a date before about 1600, when El Greco was not quite sixty years old.
[Walter Liedtke 2014]
Marqués de Heredia; [Arteche, Madrid, until 1892; sold to Beruete y Moret]; Aureliano de Beruete y Moret, Madrid (1892–d. 1922; his widow, 1922–24; sold to MMA)
Madrid. Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura. "Exposición de las obras de Domenico Theotocopuli, llamado El Greco," 1902, no. 3 (as Portrait of El Greco, lent by Aurlieano [sic] de Beruete).
London. Grafton Galleries. "Exhibition of Spanish Old Masters," October 1913–January 1914, no. 127 (as "Portrait of the Artist," lent by A. de Beruete y Moret).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Exhibition of Spanish Paintings," November 1920–January 1921, no. 36 (as "Portrait of the Artist," lent by Aureliano de Beruete, Madrid).
Hempstead, N. Y. Hofstra College. "Metropolitan Museum Masterpieces," June 26–September 1, 1952, no. 26.
University of California at Los Angeles. "Spanish Masters," January 24–March 6, 1960, no catalogue.
Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. "Spanish Masters," March 25–May 1, 1960, no catalogue.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 27.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 27.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 3.
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "El Greco: Identity and Transformation: Crete, Italy, Spain," February 3–May 16, 1999, no. 57.
Rome. Palazzo delle Esposizioni. "El Greco: Identità e trasformazione: Creta, Italia, Spagna," June 2–September 19, 1999, no. 57.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "El Greco: Identity and Transformation: Crete, Italy, Spain," October 18, 1999–January 17, 2000, no. 57.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. "El Greco," May 4–September 2, 2001, no. 30.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "El Greco," October 7, 2003–January 11, 2004, no. 75.
London. National Gallery. "El Greco," February 11–May 23, 2004, no. 75.
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History," November 17, 2006–March 28, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Barcelona. Museu Picasso. "Picasso versus Rusiñol," May 27–September 5, 2010, unnumbered cat.
National Museum of Art, Osaka. "El Greco's Visual Poetics," October 16–December 24, 2012, no. 1 (as "Self Portrait [Portrait of a Man?]").
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "El Greco's Visual Poetics," January 19–April 7, 2013, no. 1 (as "Self Portrait [Portrait of a Man?]").
Toledo. Museo de Santa Cruz. "The Greek of Toledo," March 14–June 14, 2014, no. 18 (as "Self-Portrait").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "El Greco in New York," November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015, no catalogue.
Salvador Sanpere y Miguel. "Domenikos Theotokopoulos." Revista de la Asociación-Artístico-Arqueológica-Barcelonesa 4 (March–April 1900), pp. 394–95, ill., as a self-portrait by El Greco in the collection of Aureliano Beruete.
Miguel Utrillo. "Le Greco." L'art et les artistes 1 (April–September 1905), p. 207, ill., as a self-portrait.
Paul Lafond. "Domenikos Theotokopuli, dit Le Greco." Les arts 5 (October 1906), pp. 28, 30, ill., observes that there is no proof that this is a self-portrait, calling this identification of the sitter "no more than a plausible hypothesis".
Ludwig Zottmann. "Zur Kunst von 'El Greco'." Die christliche Kunst 3 (1906–07), p. 234, as a self-portrait.
Rafael Domenech. "Aureliano de Beruete." Forma 2 (1907), pp. 165, 174, ill., as a self-portrait.
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Madrid, 1908, vol. 1, pp. 36, 417, 566, no. 89; vol. 2, pls. 1, 117 (overall and detail), hesitates to identify it as a self-portrait; adds to the provenance, dates it between 1594–1604 and notes that it is signed [falsely].
Carl Justi. Miscellaneen aus drei Jahrhunderten spanischen Kunstlebens. Berlin, 1908, vol. 2, p. 201, ill., as a self-portrait.
Albert F. Calvert and C. Gasquoine Hartley. El Greco: An Account of His Life and Works. London, 1909, pp. 139, pl. 24, observe that "this startling, strong, yet refined face, is what we would expect El Greco to be"; date it on the basis of style "to the years immediately before the last period" of El Greco.
Maurice Barrès and Paul Lafond. Le Greco. Paris, , pp. 28, 179, as probably a self-portrait.
August L. Mayer. El Greco: Eine Enführung in das Leben und Wirken des Domenico Theotocopuli gennant El Greco. Munich, 1911, pp. 2, 22, 86, ill. (frontispiece), as "Self-portrait (?)"; dates it about 1610.
Emile Bertaux. "Notes sur Le Greco." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 29 (January–June 1911), pp. 409–11, ill., illustrates it as "Portrait d'Inconnu" and doubts it is a self-portrait.
Maurice Barrès. Greco, ou le secret de Tolède. Paris, 1912, p. 38, as a self-portrait.
Paul Lafond. Le Greco. Paris, 1913, pp. 100, IX, pl. 1 (frontispiece), as probably a self-portrait.
Hugo Kehrer. Die Kunst des Greco. Munich, 1914, p. 19, pl. 5, as a self-portrait.
A. de Beruete y Moret. El Greco, pintor de retratos: Conferencia dada en Toledo en ocasión del III centenario del Greco, Abril 1914. [Madrid], 1914, p. 24, ill. (frontispiece), as a self-portrait.
Exhibition of Spanish Paintings. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1920, pp. 28–29, no. 36; plate vol., pl. 36.
Max Dvorák. "Über Greco und den Manierismus." Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 1 (1921–22), p. 35, fig. 10.
August L. Mayer. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922, pp. 246–47, 255, fig. 179, as a self-portrait from the last years of his life.
A. de Beruete y Moret. Conferencias de arte. Madrid, 1924, p. 122, ill. opp. p. 122, as a self-portrait.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier. El Greco. New York, 1925, pp. x, 50–52, 148, pl. XI (frontispiece), calls it "Portrait of an Old Man", noting that there is no evidence for its being a self-portrait.
Bryson Burroughs. "A Portrait by El Greco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 20 (May 1925), pp. 122-24, ill. (cover), notes that the sitter for this portrait appears in several others works by El Greco including: "The Disrobing of Christ" [Cathedral, Toledo], "The Martyrdom of Saint Maurice and the Theban Legion" [El Escorial], and "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz" [Santo Tomé, Toledo]; reproduces a [false] signature; tends to see it as a self-portrait; dates it about 1600.
Bryson Burroughs. "Le nouveau Greco du Metropolitan Museum." Bulletin de l'art no. 721 (September–October 1925), pp. 269–72.
Dimand. "Neuerwerbungen des Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York." Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt, n.s., 35 (April 1925–March 1926), pp. 281–82, ill., as a self-portrait; dates it about 1600.
[F. J.] S. [Sánchez] C. [Cantón]. "El autoretrato del Greco de la colección Beruete." Archivo español de arte y arqueología 1 (1925), p. 228.
Julius Meier-Graefe. The Spanish Journey. London, 1926, p. 53, as a "so-called self-portrait".
August L. Mayer. Dominico Theotocopuli, El Greco. Munich, 1926, pp. xviii, 52, no. 329, pl. 90, identifies it as no. 189 in inventory B (Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory), "un retrato de mi padre"; dates it around 1609.
F. de B. San Román. "De la vida del Greco (Nueva serie de documentos inéditos)." Archivo español de arte y arqueología 3 (1927), p. 303, as with all probability the portrait listed as no. 189 in Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory: "un retrato de mi P[adr]e, con su quadro guarnecido".
Malcolm Vaughan. "Portraits by El Greco in America." International Studio 86 (March 1927), pp. 28, 30, 102, ill., dates it about 1600; notes that it is generally considered a self-portrait, although "no actual evidence exists".
Emilio H. del Villar. El Greco en España. Madrid, 1928, pp. 40, 139–40, pl. 31, as a supposed self-portrait.
Frank Rutter. El Greco (1541–1614). New York, , pp. 66, 94, no. 53, pl. 2, as "Portrait of the Artist (?)"; dates it 1600–1608.
Frank Gray Griswold. El Greco. 1930, pp. 50, 78, pl. 18 (frontispiece), as a supposed self-portrait; dates it 1594–1604.
August L. Mayer. El Greco. Berlin, 1931, p. 12, fig. 1, dates it 1605–08 at the latest.
Raymond Escholier. Greco. Paris, 1937, p. 161, ill. (detail, cover), as a self-portrait.
M. Legendre and A. Hartmann. Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco. Paris, 1937, pp. 32–33, 504, ill., as a self-portrait; dates it "circa 1609–1594–1604".
Ludwig Goldscheider. El Greco. London, 1938, ill. p. 21 and pl. 194, as "Self-portrait (?)"; dates it about 1609.
Hans Vollmer inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 4, as a "visionary self-portrait".
Hugo Kehrer. Greco als Gestalt des Manierismus. Munich, 1939, p. 83, as a self-portrait.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 229–30, ill., as "Portrait of a Man (Perhaps the artist)"; observes that there is no evidence connecting this portrait with the "portrait of my father" in Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory; notes that the workmanship is that of El Greco's late period.
Kurt Pfister. El Greco. Zürich, 1941, pp. 109, 112, 150, ill., as a self-portrait.
Ignacio de Beryes. Domenicos Theotocopoulos, El Greco. Barcelona, [1944?], pp. 18, 20, as a self-portrait.
Jean Babelon. El Greco. Paris, 1946, pp. 37, 95, ill., as a self-portrait; dates it about 1609.
Anthony Bertram. El Greco. London, 1949, pp. 5, 14, ill., as "Self-portrait (?)"; dates it about 1609.
Leo Bronstein. El Greco. New York, 1950, pp. 98–99, ill. (color), as "Self-portrait (?)".
José Camón Aznar. Dominico Greco. Madrid, 1950, vol. 1, p. 192; vol. 2, pp. 1108–10, 1393, no. 733, fig. 866, as "Portrait of an Old Man", not likely to be a self-portrait; dates it about 1590–1600.
John F. Matthews. El Greco (Domenicos Theotocopoulos), (1541–1614). New York, 1953, unpaginated, pl. 1, colorpl. 29 (overall and detail), as "Self-Portrait (?)"; dates it about 1604; notes the similarity between the sitter in this portrait and the figure in "Saint Luke" [Toledo Cathedral].
Ludwig Goldscheider. El Greco: Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures. 3rd ed. London, 1954, p. 17, pl. 141, as "Self-Portrait of the Artist"; dates it about 1604.
Manuel B. Cossío with the assistance of Natalia Cossío de Jiménez inDominico Theotocopuli, El Greco. Oxford, 1955, p. 13, no. 38, pl. 38, as "Portrait of an Old Man".
Antonina Vallentin. El Greco. Garden City, N.Y., 1955, p. 251, pl. 84.
Paul Guinard. El Greco: Biographical and Critical Study. [Lausanne?], , pp. 30–31, ill. (color), as "Presumed Self-portrait"; dates it 1605–10.
G. Marañón. El Greco y Toledo. Madrid, 1956, p. 282, as a self-portrait, certainly identifiable with the one listed in Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory.
Ruth M. Anderson. Letter. 1956, [the author was the Curator of Costume, Hispanic Society, New York] discusses sumptuary laws passed in Spain in 1586 and 1593 regarding men's ruffs; lists several portraits dated between 1586 and 1598 in which ruffs are worn that are similar to the one worn here.
Halldor Soehner. "Greco in Spanien." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 8 (1957), p. 167, as "Portrait of an Old Man"; dates it 1596–99.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 206, no. 1420, as a self-portrait of about 1609.
Karl Ipser. El Greco, der Maler des christlichen Weltbildes. Braunschweig, 1960, pp. 172–76, ill., as "Portrait of an Unknown Man"; dates it after 1600.
Hugo Kehrer. Greco in Toledo: Höhe und Vollendung, 1577–1614. Stuttgart, 1960, pp. 87–89, pl. 89, as a self-portrait.
Gerald Eager. "The Missing and the Mutilated Eye in Contemporary Art." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 20 (Fall 1961), p. 54, ill., as a self-portrait.
Pál Kelemen. El Greco Revisited: Candia, Venice, Toledo. New York, 1961, p. 138, pl. 94B, as perhaps a self-portrait.
Harold E. Wethey. El Greco and His School. Princeton, 1962, vol. 1, fig. 330; vol. 2, pp. 96–97, no. 156, dates it 1595–1600 and catalogues it as "Self-portrait (so-called)," observing that the sitter does not resemble other possible portraits of the painter [i.e. in the "Christ Healing the Blind," Parma, and in Jorge Manuel's "Marytrdom of Saint Maurice," private collection, Paris].
Georg J. Reimann. El Greco. Leipzig, 1966, pp. 66, 68, 77, pl. 68, as a self-portrait; dates it 1605–08.
Tiziana Frati. L'opera completa del Greco. Milan, 1969, p. 111, no. 108, ill., as a self-portrait (?); dates it about 1590–1600.
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. El Greco: The Expressionism of His Final Years. New York, 1969, pp. 63, 68–69, ill., as "Portrait of a Man (perhaps the artist)"; dates it about 1590–95.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 233 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Ed. Natalia Cossío de Jiménez. definitive ed. Barcelona, 1972, pp. 18–19, 248, 250, 393, no. 353, ill., fig. 95 (overall and detail), as "Portrait of an Old Man"; dates it 1594–1604; states incorrectly that it was "sold to the United States in 1902".
Jacques Lassaigne. El Greco. London, 1973, pp. 197–98, ill., as "Portrait of an Elderly Gentleman (Self-portrait?)"; dates it 1590–1600.
José Gudiol. El Greco, 1541–1614. New York, 1973, pp. 112, 113, 344, no. 73, ill. (detail), as "Head of an Old Man"; suggests the sitter was of Jewish origin; dates it 1579–86.
Kazimierz Zawanowski. El Greco. Warsaw, 1979, unpaginated, no. 22, ill., dates it about 1605–10 (?).
Katharine Baetjer. "El Greco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 39 (Summer 1981), pp. 39–41, ill. (color), notes that "when the picture was thought to represent El Greco, it was dated about 1600, but it is now believed to have been painted some ten to fifteen years earlier".
René Huyghe. "Art et littérature. L'Esthétique de Barrès et Greco." Bulletin des Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique 34–37 (1985–88), p. 332, ill., as a self-portrait.
Deborah Krohn et al. inFrom El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, pp. 12, 36–37, no. 3, ill. (color), dates it about 1590; suggests the sitter may have been a relative, commenting on his resemblance to Jorge Manuel, El Greco's son.
José Álvarez Lopera. El Greco: La obra esencial. [Madrid], , pp. 231, 291, no. 251, as "Portrait of an Old Man"; dates it 1597–1607.
Fernando Marías. "Reflexiones sobre una colección de pinturas de El Greco y la "Gloria de Felipe II"." Anuario del Departamento de Historia y Teoría del Arte 5 (1993), pp. 61, 62, 70, ill., identifies it as no. 258 in the second inventory: "Un retrato del Griego de sí mismo y de su mano (retrato de medio cuerpo del Griego original de sí mismo), 300 reales".
José Álvarez Lopera inEl Greco in Italy and Italian Art. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1995, pp. 177, 453, ill. (color), calls it the "mistakenly presumed self-portrait".
Ludmilla Kagané. "Las ideas del humanismo cristiano en el "San Pedro y San Pablo" del Greco del Museo del Ermitage." El Greco of Crete: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held on the Occasion of the 450th Anniversary of the Artist's Birth. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Iráklion, Crete, 1995, pp. 293–94, ill., notes the similarity between this portrait and El Greco's paintings of "Saint Paul" (Private collection, Madrid) and "Saints Peter and Paul" (National Museum, Stockholm).
María Margarita Cuyás inEl Greco: Su revalorización por el Modernismo catalán. Ed. José Milicua. Exh. cat., Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Barcelona, 1996, pp. 126–27, ill.
Fernando Marías inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 13, New York, 1996, p. 343, refers to this picture as a "supposed Self-portrait" and dates it about 1590.
Fernando Marías. Greco: Biographie d'un peintre extravagant. Paris, 1997, pp. 224, 226, ill. p. 8 (color), as a self-portrait.
M[aría del Mar]. Borobia [Guerrero] and José Manuel Pita Andrade inEl Greco: Identity and Transformation; Crete, Italy, Spain. Ed. José Álvarez Lopera. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Milan, 1999, pp. 157, 409, no. 57, ill. pp. 296 (color) and 409, Pita Andrade in his essay considers this a self-portrait, but Borobia, who wrote the catalogue entry, does not; she dates it 1595–1600.
Joanne Snow-Smith. "El Greco's Religious Oeuvre in Spain: Reflections of Titian's Venetian Light and Michelangelo's Figura Serpentinata." El Greco in Italy and Italian Art: Proceedings of the International Symposium. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Rethymno, Crete, 1999, p. 416, ill. (detail), as "Self-portrait, about 1609".
Fernando Marías. El Greco in Toledo. Ed. Moira Johnston. London, 2001, pp. 6–7, ill., as a self-portrait; dates it about 1595.
Dawson W. Carr inEl Greco. Ed. Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and Fernando Checa Cremades. Exh. cat., Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Milan, 2001, pp. 186–87, no. 30, ill. (color), as "Portrait of an Old Man (self-portrait?)"; dates it 1595–1600.
Gudrun Maurer. Spanish Paintings. Stockholm, 2001, pp. 67–68 n. 16.
Keith Christiansen et al. inEl Greco. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. London, 2003, pp. 271–73, no. 75, ill. (color).
José Álvarez Lopera et al. inEl Greco / colaboraciones . . . Barcelona, 2003, p. 209.
José Álvarez Lopera inThe Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso. Ed. Javier Portús. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. London, 2004, pp. 47, 123, 126, 129–31, fig. 60 (color), as "Portrait of an Old Man (presumed Self-Portrait)"; dates it about 1597–1603 and notes that it may depict El Greco's brother, Manusos.
Anna Reuter inSpanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History. Ed. Carmen Giménez and Francisco Calvo Serraller. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Madrid, 2006, pp. 318–19, ill. (color).
Eduard Vallès inPicasso versus Rusiñol. Exh. cat., Museu Picasso. Barcelona, 2010, pp. 192, 393, ill. p. 207 (color).
Fernando Marías inEl Greco's Visual Poetics. Exh. cat., National Museum of Art, Osaka. [Tokyo], 2012, pp. 28–29, no. 1, ill. (color), as "Self-portrait (Portrait of a Man?)".
Fernando Marías. El Greco, Life and Work—A New History. London, 2013, p. 330, ill., and frontispiece (color).
Pedro J. Martínez Plaza inEl Greco & la pintura moderna. Ed. Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2014, pp. 96, 99 n. 87.