El Greco has a recognisable style about him – dark, bold skies and very stylised outlines. This is one of my favourite paintings of his, and features the town where he was living; Toledo in central Spain. In fact, El Greco painted a number of pictures of Toledo, but this is the one that is best known, presumably for its powerful dramatic skies.
For years I had always believed that this was a slightly fantastic rendering of the landscape, in a similar way to Van Gogh’s jewel colours in his Cornfield paintings – skies are not that colour as a general rule. Until I saw this photograph of an approaching storm in the American Midwest:
Clearly, El Greco painted this just before the heavens must have opened! It certainly adds to the drama of the picture and highlights the brighter colours of the walls and roofs of the buildings. It may also just be me but this seems to foreshadow some of the landscapes painted by Cezanne and Gaugin some two hundred years later. Who said that history doesn’t repeat itself?