In this, his greatest surviving landscape, El Greco portrays the city he lived and worked in for most of his life. The painting belongs to the tradition of emblematic city views, rather than a faithful documentary description. The view of the eastern section of Toledo from the north would have excluded the cathedral, which the artist therefore imaginatively moved to the left of the Alcázar (the royal palace). Other buildings represented in the painting include the ancient Alcántara Bridge, and on the other side of the river Tagus, the Castle of San Servando.
We know remarkably little about the circumstances around the creation of this masterpiece, El Greco's greatest surviving landscape. There is a possibility that it was still in the artist's studio when he died, for in the inventory of his possessions drawn up in April and July 1614 are found three landscapes: a "Toledo" and "two landscapes of Toledo" (f. 1402: Un toledo; f. 1403: dos paises de toledo). What must be the same three paintings recur in a subsequent inventory drawn up in August 1621/22 of the possessions of El Greco's son, Jorge, in which the measurements for the first translate to about 41 x 66 1/8 inches, and for the other two to about 43 3/4 x 43 3/4 inches. (f. jU clxxx̊i: 137, 138: Dos paises de T[oled]o de bara y terzia en quadrado; 172: Un lienzo de T[oled]o de dos baras de largo y bara iquarta de alto). The 1621 inventory lists six further landscapes (nos. 146–48 and 210–12), either just begun or unfinished, but neither artist nor subject is included. (For the inventories, see Javier Docampo, José Riello, La Biblioteca del Greco, Madrid, 2014, pp. 224, 233.) The larger, horizontal canvas is usually identified with the View and Plan of Toledo in the Museo de El Greco, Toledo (see Additional Images, fig. 1), though that work actually measures 52 x 89 3/4 inches. The MMA picture could conceivably be one of the smaller, square pictures. In yet another inventory, this time of the collection of the artist's friend and patron Pedro Salazar de Mendoza (1549–1629) drawn up in 1629 are listed two paintings of Toledo by El Greco: "a picture of the city of Toledo with its plan" and "a landscape of Toledo looking towards the Alcántara bridge." The first could, again, possibly be the View and Plan in the Museo de El Greco while the second description would accord with the viewpoint seen in the MMA canvas. In an inventory drawn up between 1632 and 1639 are found two landscapes by El Greco in the collection of Pedro Lasso de la Vega Niño y Guzmán (1559–1637), 1st Conde de los Arcos, a major collector who owned at least seven paintings by El Greco, including the Portrait of a Cardinal in the MMA (29.100.5). They are listed among the paintings in his castle at Batres as a "piece [showing] Toledo and the other a monastery of the Great Camaldolese" (dos medianos [cuadros] de Domenico Greco, el un retrato de un pedazo de Toledo, el otro retrato del monasterio de la gran Camáldula; see Refs.). The second is certainly the Allegory of the Camaldolese Order (Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid)—which is an allegory incorporating a landscape—and the other may well be the MMA painting, since it belonged to a descendant of the Conde de los Arcos when it was shown (together with the Portrait of a Cardinal) to Louisine and H. O. Havemeyer in 1901; Mrs. Havemeyer acquired it only in 1909, after her husband's death, from the French dealer Durand-Ruel.
The information provided by these various inventories presents a number of problems, not least of which is the issue of how many landscapes with a view of Toledo El Greco painted and when and how the ones listed changed ownership. Because of these uncertainties, our understanding of the origin and meaning of the two surviving landscape paintings—the View of Toledo and the View and Plan—remains largely speculative. Certainly, they respond to very different objectives: one setting out to document the city in cartographic terms, the other evoking it through a selective arrangement of its most characteristic features. As Brown and Kagan (1982) noted, the MMA painting belongs to a tradition of emblematic city views and derives its potency precisely from the representational license it takes. As with El Greco's finest portraits, its approach is interpretive rather than documentary: it seeks to portray the essence of the city rather than to record its actual appearance.
Both here and in the View and Plan the city is shown from the north, except that in the MMA canvas El Greco has included only the easternmost portion, above the Tagus river. This partial view would have excluded the cathedral, which he therefore imaginatively moved to the left of the dominant Alcázar or royal palace. A string of buildings descends a steep hill to the Roman Alcántara bridge, while on the other side of the Tagus is the castle of San Servando. Another cluster of buildings appears on a cloud-like form below the castle. In his View and Plan El Greco shows the Hospital of Saint John the Baptist (the Tavera Hospital) raised on a cloud, and explains in an inscription that he used this device so that the hospital would not obscure a view of the city gate. Taking up this line of reasoning, Brown and Kagan have suggested that in his cluster of building in the MMA picture El Greco may have wanted to represent the Agaliense monastery where Saint Ildefonso, the patron saint of Toledo, went on retreat. He may have felt that a depiction of this monastery complex was crucial to a spiritual portrait of the city. That the buildings are on a cloud has been questioned since figures can be seen walking about, but there is really no other explanation for the form. Kagan identifies Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, who either owned both pictures by 1629 or had two similar ones, as crucial to the genesis of the two paintings. He was administrator at the Tavera Hospital and his interest in maps might explain the character of the View and Plan. Similarly, his interest in Saint Ildefonso and his attempt to determine the site of the Agaliense monastery used by the saint as a retreat could be equally important for the View of Toledo. However, it is important to bear in mind El Greco’s practice of painting variants of his most popular or important compositions. The inventories suggest that this practice extended to the landscape views of Toledo. Interestingly, we know of two versions of his imaginary landscape showing the Camaldolese community seen against a mountainous backdrop: one in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid, and a larger version in the Colegio del Patriarca, Valencia. Moreover, El Greco must have had a painting of Toledo in his workshop that could be used for reference when he included the city in the backgrounds of other compositions. For example, a view of Toledo appears in the background of El Greco's altarpiece in the Capilla de San José, Toledo, which was commissioned in 1597. The San José altarpiece shows Saint Joseph with the infant Christ, and an inscription adjacent to it refers to the Christ Child as the ruler of Toledo: the city thus appears symbolically as his dominion. Another version of the View of Toledo, though without the Alcázar, appears in The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo; see Additional Images, fig. 2), which was commissioned in 1607. In that work the city, significantly deprived of the building that served as the seat of secular power, is transformed into one of a number of Marian symbols in the landscape. It has sometimes been conjectured that the View of Toledo is itself a fragment of a religious picture. Although this is incorrect—the canvas has been trimmed but there is no reason to believe it to be a fragment—the impulse behind it is intimately linked with the altarpieces and it seems likely that the View or a picture very like it served as a model for the ecclesiastical works and thus dates to about 1597.
[2014; adapted from Christiansen et al. 2003]
Inscription: Signed (lower right, in Greek): Domenikos Theotokopoulos / made this
?the artist, El Greco, Toledo (until d. 1614; posthumous inv., 1614, as one of "dos paises de Toledo"); ?his son, Jorge Manuel Theotocopoulos (1614–at least 1621; inv., 1621, as one of "dos Paises de Toledo, de bara y terzia en quadrado" [about 43 3/4 x 43 3/4 in.]); ?Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, Toledo (inv., 1629, as "un pais de Toledo [h]acia la puente de Alcantara"); ?Pedro Lasso de la Vega, 1st Conde de los Arcos, Batres (until d. 1637; inv., 1632–39, as "un retrato de un pedazo de Toledo); his grandson, Pedro Lasso de la Vega, 2nd Conde de Arcos, 4th Conde de Añover, Batres (1637–d. 1699); by descent to Sebastián de Guzmán y Spínola, 5th Marqués de Montealegre (until d. 1757); his son, José de Guzmán y Guevara, 6th Marqués de Montealegre (1757–d. 1781); by descent through the Condes de Oñate to Carlos Luis de Guzmán y de la Cerda, 21st Duque de Nájera (until d. 1880); his widow, María Josefa de la Cerda y Palafox, Condessa viuda de Oñate, Oñate Palace, Madrid (1880–d. 1884; inv., 1884., as "Vista de Toledo"); Carlos Luis's brother, José Rainiero de Guzmán y de la Cerda, 22nd Duque de Nájera (1884–d. 1891); by descent to Juan de Zavala y de Guzmán, 25th Duque de Nájera, Oñate Palace (1901–7; sold to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1907–9; bought from Ricardo de Madrazo (their agent in Spain); sold for Fr 70,000 to Havemeyer]; Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1909–d. 1929)
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by El Greco and Goya," April 2–20, 1912, no. 3.
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by El Greco and Goya," January 1915, no. 3.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition," May 8–August 1920, unnumbered cat. (p. 9, lent by Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 68 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 193].
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Painting," November 4, 1950–February 11, 1951, no. 28.
Brussels Universal and International Exhibition: World Fair. "Brussels Universal and International Exhibition," August 8–October 19, 1958, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 52).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 216.
Leningrad [St. Petersburg]. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 29.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum. "100 Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 29.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "El Greco of Toledo," April 1–June 6, 1982, no. 35.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "El Greco of Toledo," July 2–September 6, 1982, no. 35.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland. "El Greco: Mystery and Illumination," July 29–October 15, 1989, no. 18.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A303.
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "El Greco: Identity and Transformation: Crete, Italy, Spain," February 3–May 16, 1999, no. 58.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. "El Greco," May 4–September 2, 2001, no. 27.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "El Greco," October 7, 2003–January 11, 2004, no. 66.
London. National Gallery. "El Greco," February 11–May 23, 2004, no. 66.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "El Greco to Velázquez: Art During the Reign of Philip III," April 20–July 27, 2008, no. 4.
Toledo. Museo de Santa Cruz. "The Greek of Toledo," March 14–June 14, 2014, no. 2.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "El Greco in New York," November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015, no catalogue.
Relación y inventario de las alhajas que hay en la casa y fortaleza de la villa de Batres [Inventory of the possessions of Pedro Laso de la Vega, II Conde de Arcos y IV Conde de Añover]. 1639 [Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid; see Caviro 1985, pp. 220–21], lists "dos medianos [cuadros] de Domenico Greco, el un retrato de un pedazo de Toledo, el otro retrato del monasterio de la gran Camáldula," which were appraised at 300 reales apiece, and sold together for 400 reales [the "pedazo de Toledo" may be the MMA picture].
Antonio Ponz. Viage de España. Vol. 5, Trata de Madrid. Madrid, 1776, p. 54, reports seeing "dos quadritos del Greco, que son una vista de Toledo, y la Oracion del Huerto" in the Convent of Agustinos Recoletos, Madrid (possibly our picture).
D. Juan Agustín Ceán Bermúdez. Diccionario histórico de los más ilustres profesores de las bellas artes en España. Madrid, 1800, vol. 6, p. 12, cites a "View of Toledo" (possibly our picture) in the antechamber of the Chapel of Our Lady of Copocavana in the Church of the Recoletos, Madrid.
Paul Lafond. "Domenikos Theotokopuli, dit Le Greco." Les arts 5 (October 1906), pp. 19, 26–27, ill., as in the Oñate collection, Madrid.
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Madrid, 1908, vol. 1, pp. 451–56, 565, no. 83; vol. 2, pl. 137, dates it from El Greco's "last period, 1604–14"; notes that he discovered it in the collection of the Condesas de Añover y de Castañeda in the Palacio de Oñate, Madrid; compares the landscape to a drawing by Giorgione in the Uffizi (Florence).
Albert F. Calvert and C. Gasquoine Hartley. El Greco: An Account of His Life and Works. London, 1909, pp. 156–57, pl. 60.
Maurice Barrès and Paul Lafond. Le Greco. Paris, , p. 160, as in the collection of Durand-Ruel, Paris.
August L. Mayer. El Greco: Eine Enführung in das Leben und Wirken des Domenico Theotocopuli gennant El Greco. Munich, 1911, pp. 58, 60, pl. 75.
Paul Lafond. Le Greco: Essai sur sa vie et sur son oeuvre. Paris, n.d. [after 1911], pp. 75–76.
Maurice Barrès. Greco, ou le secret de Tolède. Paris, 1912, pp. 41, 131, ill. (frontispiece).
Hugo Kehrer. Die Kunst des Greco. Munich, 1914, pp. 83–84, 94, pl. 53, dates it 1614; calls it "Toledo in a Storm".
"Pictures Lent for the Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (August 1920), p. 189, notes that El Greco reverses the positions of the Alcázar and the cathedral "for the sake of greater intensity".
Max Dvorák. "Über Greco und den Manierismus." Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 1 (1921–22), p. 38, fig. 14.
August L. Mayer. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922, pp. 250–51, fig. 192.
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier. El Greco. New York, 1925, pp. 129–30, pl. 35, states that landscapes of this kind are not uncommon in contemporary Flemish art, but very unusual in Spanish art.
C. Nasse. "Tintoretto und Greco." Die Kunst für Alle 41 (1925–26), p. 182.
August L. Mayer. Dominico Theotocopuli, El Greco. Munich, 1926, pp. xxxii, 50, no. 315, pl. 68, as a late work; calls it "Toledo in a Storm" and describes it as "a paraphrase of the city".
Hugo Kehrer. Spanische Kunst von Greco bis Goya. Munich, 1926, pp. 97–99, ill., calls it "Toledo in a Lightning Storm".
F. de B. San Román. "De la vida del Greco (Nueva serie de documentos inéditos)." Archivo español de arte y arqueología 3 (1927), p. 300, identifies it with nos. 137 and 138 from Jorge Manuel's 1621 inventory: "Dos paises de Toledo, de bara y terzia en quadrado" [about 44 in.]; states that only one such landscape survives.
J.-F. Willumsen. La jeunesse du peintre El Greco: Essai sur la transformation de l'artiste byzantin en peintre européen. Paris, 1927, pp. 669–72, pl. 102, calls it "Toledo with the Bridge of Alcantara"; dates it about 1604–14; notes that the tower on the bridge on the town side is "an invention of El Greco's" noting that the tower there, "is square, not octagonal".
Emilio H. del Villar. El Greco en España. Madrid, 1928, pp. 158–59, pl. 39, notes that this painting served as a model for Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo's "View of Zaragoza" [Prado, Madrid].
Frank Rutter. El Greco (1541–1614). New York, , pp. 17, 64–65, 99, no. 88, pl. 4, calls it "Toledo in a Storm" and dates it 1604–14; notes that he saw this painting in Paris at the "Salon d'Automne" in 1908; rejects Cossío's [Ref. 1908] suggestion that El Greco was influenced by Giorgione's "Tempest" in the Uffizi, and suggests that he may have gotten "his idea from one of those Byzantine topographical woodprints of holy places, which were treasured by the pious unable to make a pilgrimage"; erroneously calls it "the first pure landscape in European art, for the composition is not marred by the intrusion of a single human figure".
Frank Gray Griswold. El Greco. 1930, pp. 39–40.
Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), pp. 458–62.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 52–53, ill., as "Landscape—View of Toledo".
August L. Mayer. El Greco. Berlin, 1931, pp. 138, 140, fig. 9, as a "very late work".
M. Seuphor. Greco: Considérations sur sa vie et sur quelques unes de ses oeuvres. Paris, 1931, pp. 12, 98, 103, dates it about 1610.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Masterpieces of Landscape Painting in American Collections." Fine Arts 18 (December 1931), pp. 22, 25, ill., calls it "the first impressionistic landscape...the first landscape not painted exactly as it seemed, or as well as the artist could render it"; notes that "for dramatic content [the picture] has remained unsurpassed among the landscapes of four centuries".
Jean Cassou. Le Gréco. Paris, 1931, p. 62.
Charles Sterling. "Cézanne et les maîtres d'autrefois." La Renaissance 19 (May–June 1936), pp. 11, 14, fig. 11, compares this picture with Cézanne's "Gardanne" (Dr. H.F. Hirschland collection, New York).
Raymond Escholier. Greco. Paris, 1937, p. 150.
M. Legendre and A. Hartmann. Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco. Paris, 1937, colorpl. 16, as from his "last period"; call it "View of Toledo under Storm".
Ludwig Goldscheider. El Greco. London, 1938, p. 223, ill. (color), dates it 1600–1610.
Hans Vollmer inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 7.
Hugo Kehrer. Greco als Gestalt des Manierismus. Munich, 1939, pp. 97–98, 111–12, fig. 14, lists it with his late masterpieces as "Toledo in a Lightning Storm".
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 231–32, ill.
Kurt Pfister. El Greco. Zürich, 1941, pp. 118, 138, ill.
Margaret Breuning. "Metropolitan Re-Installs Its Treasures in Attractive Settings." Art Digest 18 (June 1, 1944), p. 6.
Ignacio de Beryes. Domenicos Theotocopoulos, El Greco. Barcelona, [1944?], p. 19.
Harry B. Wehle. "Notes on the Cover." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 3 (June 1945), ill. opp. p. 233 and on front cover (color).
Leo Bronstein. El Greco. New York, 1950, pp. 110–11, ill. (color).
José Camón Aznar. Dominico Greco. Madrid, 1950, vol. 2, pp. 969–70, 972, 1391, no. 699, fig. 753, dates it after 1605; compares the handling of the sky with that of a fragment by El Greco in the Hirsch collection, New York.
Lillian Ross. "Profiles: How do you like it now, gentlemen?" New Yorker (May 13, 1950), pp. 36, 58 [reprinted as "Portrait of Hemingway," New York, 1961, p. 58], records Ernest Hemingway's comments on this painting during a visit to the Museum, noting that he described it as "the best picture in the Museum for me, and Christ knows there are some lovely ones".
André Malraux. Les voix du silence. [Paris], 1951, pp. 433, 435, ill.
Lewis Mumford. "Standardization, Reproduction and Choice." Magazine of Art 45 (February 1952), pp. 55–56, ill.
John F. Matthews. El Greco (Domenicos Theotocopoulos), (1541–1614). New York, 1953, unpaginated, pl. 30 (color), dates it 1604–14.
Max Dvorák. "El Greco and Mannerism." Magazine of Art 46 (January 1953), p. 21.
Raymond Cogniat. Histoire de la peinture. Vol. 1, [Paris], 1954, vol. 1, p. 133, ill. (color).
Frederic Taubes. "Five New Masters." American Artist 18 (January 1954), p. 20.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), pp. 4, 28, ill.
Manuel B. Cossío with the assistance of Natalia Cossío de Jiménez inDominico Theotocopuli, El Greco. Oxford, 1955, pp. 20, 40 n. 51, no. 11, pl. 11, as from his "last period".
Antonina Vallentin. El Greco. Garden City, N.Y., 1955, pp. 241, 246–47, pl. 83.
Paul Guinard. El Greco: Biographical and Critical Study. [Lausanne?], , pp. 106, 109.
G. Marañón. El Greco y Toledo. Madrid, 1956, pp. 255, 261, 269–70, ill. (overall and detail).
Halldor Soehner. "Greco in Spanien." Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 8 (1957), pp. 158–59, 162–64, 167, dates it about 1600–1602.
A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), p. 100.
Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. La pintura española fuera de España. Madrid, 1958, p. 205, no. 1412.
Martin Soria in George Kubler and Martin Soria. Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions, 1500 to 1800. Baltimore, 1959, p. 218, pl. 111A, dates it about 1604–10.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "El Greco's 'Vision of Saint John'." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 17 (June 1959), pp. 241, 244–45, ill.
Ernest W. Watson. "Mood: A Chapter from the Author's New Book: "Composition in Landscape and Still Life"." American Artist 23 (October 1959), pp. 33–34.
Karl Ipser. El Greco, der Maler des christlichen Weltbildes. Braunschweig, 1960, pp. 267–71, ill. (overall and detail), calls it "Storm over Toledo" and dates it about 1605.
Hugo Kehrer. Greco in Toledo: Höhe und Vollendung, 1577–1614. Stuttgart, 1960, pp. 68–69, ill., dates it 1608.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. New York, 1961, pp. 139, 141, 156.
Pál Kelemen. El Greco Revisited: Candia, Venice, Toledo. New York, 1961, pp. 142–44, pls. 104A, 105C (overall and detail), notes that it is thinly painted on loosely woven canvas and "wonders whether it was not executed for some temporary construction, eventually in combination with another, complementary landscape".
Harold E. Wethey. El Greco and His School. Princeton, 1962, vol. 1, pp. 63–64; vol. 2, pp. 85–86, no. 129, figs. 141–42 (overall and detail), dates it about 1595–1600; notes that the panoramic composition was typical of Flemish and German landscape paintings, which El Greco would have seen in Italy; refutes unpublished speculation that the picture is a fragment of a now lost Crucifixion, arguing that there is no evidence that the painting had ever been cut down; notes that this painting is generally assumed to be the picture in the Agustinos Recoletos, Madrid, in spite of Ponz's description of that work as diminutive ("cuadrito").
Gotthard Jedlicka. Spanish Painting. New York, 1964, pp. 23, 200, no. 36, pl. 36, dates it about 1600–1610.
Denys Sutton. "The Discerning Eye of Louisine Havemeyer." Apollo 82 (September 1965), p. 231.
Arnold Hauser. Mannerism: The Crisis of the Renaissance and the Origin of Modern Art. London, 1965, vol. 1, pp. 268–69; vol. 2, pl. 299, dates this picture after 1600 and describes it as the most imporant of El Greco's two landscapes; compares it in theme and conception with the Lacoon in the National Gallery, Washington.
Ellis Waterhouse. El Greco. [London], 1965, pp. 5–6, no. 17, ill. on front cover (color), dates it about 1600.
Georg J. Reimann. El Greco. Leipzig, 1966, pp. 53–54, fig. 57 (color), dates it 1608–10.
Tiziana Frati. L'opera completa del Greco. Milan, 1969, p. 113, no. 121, ill., colorpl. 21, dates it 1595–1610.
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. El Greco: The Expressionism of His Final Years. New York, 1969, pp. 75–76, 133, 135, pl. 1 (color, overall and detail), calls it a "nocturnal vision" that has wrongly been described as "Toledo during a Tempest"; observes that it evokes the Fauves and Expressionists adding that it is "not perhaps a mere coincidence that this picture was 'discovered' or at any rate first appreciated" during a period of great interest in Cézanne.
Introduction by Kenneth Clark inMasterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 221, no. 216, ill.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 208 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Edith A. Standen inMasterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. New York, , p. 52, ill. (color).
José Gudiol. El Greco. Barcelona, 1971, p. 188, no. 143, figs. 172–73 (overall in color and detail), dates it before 1597.
J. G. Links. Townscape Painting and Drawing. New York, , pp. 116–17, 121, ill., calls it "the first 'pure' townscape painting"; erroneously claims there are no figures in the painting.
Manuel B. Cossío. El Greco. Ed. Natalia Cossío de Jiménez. definitive ed. Barcelona, 1972, pp. 274–75, 309–10, 397, no. 384, fig. 110, dates it 1604–14.
Jacques Lassaigne. El Greco. London, 1973, pp. 180, 182, pl. 136, dates it 1595–1610.
David Davies. El Greco. Oxford, 1976, p. 15, no. 39, colorpl. 39, dates it about 1595–1600.
Lionello Puppi. "La citta del Greco." Actas del XXIII Congreso Internacional de Historia del Arte, España entre el Mediterraneo y El Atlántico. Granada, 1976–77, vol. 2, pp. 395, 399–401, ill. (detail).
Denys Sutton. Romance and Reality: Aspects of Landscape Painting. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1978, p. 6, notes the influence of Tintoretto's technique in this painting.
Kazimierz Zawanowski. El Greco. Warsaw, 1979, unpaginated, no. 21, ill. (color), dates it about 1610.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 285, 288, fig. 519 (color).
Katharine Baetjer. "El Greco." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 39 (Summer 1981), pp. 28, 44–47, ill. (color, overall and detail), observes that the Havemeyers, "like other adventurous collectors of the early twentieth century...may have recognized El Greco's sympathetic links with the early moderns".
Jonathan Brown. "In Detail: El Greco's 'View of Toledo'." Portfolio 3 (January–February 1981), pp. 34–39, ill. (color, overall and detail), dates it about 1595; notes that the "View of Toledo" gives "visual expression to the propaganda campaign" seeking to encourage Philip II to reinstate the court in Toledo after he abandoned it for Madrid in 1561; adds that our picture belongs to the tradition of the emblematic or symbolic city view as opposed to the more accurate, cartographic type of view, and that two thirds of Toledo has been eliminated in order to emphasize its most important attributes, such as the Alcázar, the Cathedral, the Alcántara Bridge, and the Tagus River, which would actually have been barely visible from the east; identifies the object one-third of the way up on the right side, as "a mechanical device called...the 'Artificio de Januelo'," an innovative water-pumping system; also states that in 1629 a painting of similar size, described as a "landscape of Toledo toward the Alcántara Bridge," was listed in the estate of Dr. Pedro de Salazar y Mendoza, who is known to have been a friend and patron of El Greco.
Denys Sutton. "The Aesthete of Toledo." Apollo, n.s., 116 (September 1982), p. 150, ill.
Edward J. Sullivan. "El Greco of Toledo." Art Journal 42 (Fall 1982), pp. 240–41, ill.
Jonathan Brown and Richard L. Kagan. "View of Toledo." Studies in the History of Art [Figures of Thought: El Greco as Interpreter of History, Tradition, and Ideas] 11 (1982), pp. 19–30, ill. (overall and detail) and colorpl. 7, give further information about Salazar y Mendoza and comment that his interest in local history, topography, and cartography suggests that he may have encouraged El Greco to undertake his two known essays in landscape painting—this painting and the "View and Plan of Toledo" (Casa del Greco, Toledo); observe that the landscape in Salazar's collection ("Toledo looking towards the Alcántara bridge") is generally thought to be identical with the MMA picture, presumably acquired after El Greco's death, as it seems to be the one mentioned in Jorge Manuel's posession in 1621: one of the "Dos paises de Toledo, de bara y terzia en quadrado" [about 43 3/4 x 43 3/4 in.]; note that the mysterious group of buildings at the lower left was invented by the artist and suggest that they may represent the Agaliense monastery where Saint Ildefonso, patron saint of Toledo, went on retreat.
William B. Jordan et al. El Greco of Toledo. Ed. William B. Jordan. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. Boston, 1982, pp. 167, 244–45, no. 35, ill., colorpl. 4, dates it about 1600.
George R. Allen. El Greco: Two Studies. Philadelphia, 1984, pp. 11, 21–25, 44, pl. 7A, sees this landscape as derived from the views of Toledo El Greco used in paintings of the Crucifixion, where a stormy or night sky would be appropriate, and asserts that the stormy sky here reflects the subject's origin; suggests the painting be titled "Toledo in the Midday Darkness that Shrouded the Crucifixion".
Balbina M. Caviro. "Los Grecos de don Pedro Laso de la Vega." Goya (January–February 1985), pp. 216, 220–22, ill., discusses Pedro Laso de la Vega's 1639 inventory of paintings from the castle of Batres and identifies our picture as one of "dos medianos de Domenico Greco, el un retrato de un pedazo de Toledo, el otro retrato del monasterio de la gran Camáldula," then hanging in the Sala del Cierzo and valued at 300 reales each, but which sold for 400 reales for both; agrees with Wethey [Ref. 1962] that ours is probably not the painting from the Agustinos Recoletos, Madrid, which Ponz described as a small painting "cuadrito".
John Rewald. "Durand-Ruel: 140 Years, One Man's Faith." Studies in Impressionism. Ed. Irene Gordon and Frances Weitzenhoffer. New York, 1985, pp. 200–201 [reprinted from Art News, December 1, 1943, p. 50].
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 190–91, 206, 245, 254, colorpl. 141.
Jeannine Baticle and Alain Roy. L'age Baroque en Espagne et en Europe septentrionale. Geneva, [1986?], p. 45.
Carlo L. Ragghianti. Periplo del Greco. Milan, 1987, pp. 45, 84, 107–8, fig. 57 (color).
Robert B. Simon. Important Old Master Paintings: Discoveries . . . "in una nuova luce". Exh. cat., Piero Corsini, Inc. New York, 1988, p. 71, fig. 8, under no. 12, identifies a small landscape passage with an arched bridge, tower, and steep hill on the right side of El Greco's "Adoration of the Shepherds" (now San Diego Museum of Art) as a view of Toledo, comparing it with this picture.
David Davies inEl Greco: Mystery and Illumination. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1989, pp. 62–63, no. 18, ill. (color), dates it 1595–1600; believes the artist is "clearly responding to the tradition established by Giorgione in his 'Tempest' [Uffizi, Florence]" and that "El Greco has extended Giorgione's image by fusing the two traditions of the topographical city view and the emotive landscapes of the Venetian school"; suggests the concept of painting Toledo in a storm may derive from Pliny's "Natural History," where he recounts how Apelles "even painted things that can not be represented in pictures—thunder, lightning and thunderbolts".
Helen Mullaly. "Around the Galleries: Fact and Fancy." Apollo, n.s., 130 (August 1989), p. 131.
Monique de Beaucorps. La peinture espagnole. Paris, 1990, pp. 36–37, ill. (color).
Jane Lee. Derain. Oxford and New York, 1990, p. 33, mentions this painting in relation to Derain's "Landscape at Cadaquès" (Rudolf Staechelin Family Foundation, Basel).
Nina Ayala Mallory. Del Greco a Murillo: La pintura española del Siglo de Oro, 1556–1700. Madrid, 1991, p. 38.
Jonathan Brown. The Golden Age of Painting in Spain. New Haven, 1991, p. 80.
Helmut Feld. Mutmaßungen zur religiösen Bildaussage in Manierismus und Barock: Tintoretto—El Greco—Bernini. Tübingen, 1992, p. 41.
Louisine W. Havemeyer. Sixteen to Sixty: Memoirs of a Collector. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein. 3rd ed. [1st ed. 1930, repr. 1961]. New York, 1993, pp. xv, 132, 139, 141, 153, 156, 291, 302, 323 n. 180, p. 324 nn. 197, 205, p. 345, n. 464.
Gary Tinterow inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 17.
José Álvarez Lopera. El Greco: La obra esencial. [Madrid], , pp. 194, 226–230, 291, no. 244, ill. (color), dates it 1597–1607.
Fernando Marías. Los paisajes del Prado. Madrid, 1993, pp. 100–102, 104 n. 21, ill., notes that the painting passed from the collection of Salazar de Mendoza to Andrés Martínez de Heredia in 1629 and then passed to the collection of Pedro Lasso de la Vega before 1632.
Katharine Baetjer in "A Portrait and a Landscape by El Greco of Toledo." Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 58, 60–61, colorpl. 60.
Albert Boime. "The Americanization of El Greco." 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. 621, 649.
Sergio Marinelli. "Spazio e proporzione in Domenico Greco." 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. 351, 355, ill.
Enriqueta Harris-Frankfort. "El Greco's 'Fortuna Critica' in Britain." 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. 494–95.
María Margarita Cuyás inEl Greco: Su revalorización por el Modernismo catalán. Ed. José Milicua. Exh. cat., Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Barcelona, 1996, p. 123, ill.
Fernando Marías inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 13, New York, 1996, p. 344, ill., dates it about 1610; notes that in this picture and in his "View and Plan of Toledo" the artist is "preoccupied with the means of presenting what is perceived as well as an emblematic sense of the urban landscape . . .".
Jonathan Brown inPicasso and the Spanish Tradition. Ed. Jonathan Brown. New Haven, 1996, p. 10, fig. 8.
John Richardson with the collaboration of Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 2, 1907–1917. New York, 1996, p. 456 n. 31.
Fernando Marías. Greco: Biographie d'un peintre extravagant. Paris, 1997, pp. 212, 269, 272–73, ill. (color), dates it about 1600; tentatively identifies it as a work appraised at 27 ducats in a 1632 inventory of Pedro Lasso [sic] de la Vega.
Gary Tinterow inLa collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1997, pp. 40–41, 107, ill., dates it about 1600.
Brigitte Quack. Studien zu Zeitgestalt, Farbe und Helldunkel im Werk El Grecos. Saarbrücken, 1997, pp. 147–50, 189, ill. (color on cover), dates it 1600–1602.
Víctor I. Stoichita. The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Meta-Painting. Cambridge, 1997, pp. 174–76, fig. 79.
Jonathan Brown. Painting in Spain, 1500–1700. New Haven, 1998, p. 70.
Veronika Schroeder. El Greco im frühen deutschen Expressionismus: Von der Kunstgeschichte als Stilgeschichte zur Kunstgeschichte als Geistesgeschichte. PhD diss., Universität München. Frankfurt am Main, 1998, pp. 86–87, 113, 125–26, fig. 2, as "Storm over Toledo/View of Toledo".
Richard L. Kagan. "'Urbs' and 'Civitas' in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Spain." Envisioning the City: Six Studies in Urban Cartography. Ed. David Buisseret. Chicago, 1998, pp. 93, 107 n. 56, fig. 3.17.
Jean Louis Schefer. Sommeil du Greco. Paris, 1999, pp. 8–9, 35, 70, 94–95, 100, 110, 139, ill.
José Álvarez Lopera inEl Greco: Identity and Transformation; Crete, Italy, Spain. Ed. José Álvarez Lopera. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 1999, pp. 157, 297, 409–11, no. 58, ill. (color), notes that of the three views of Toledo mentioned in his 1621 inventory, Jorge Manuel sold two of them, "a Toledo" and one of the "Two Landscapes of Toledo" to Salazar Mendoza and the remaining "Landscape" to Pedro Laso de la Vega; believes ours was the one sold to Laso de la Vega and described in his 1637 inventory as one of "dos cuadros de mano del Griego, que el uno es un pedaço de Toledo," of medium size.
Angela Tamvaki. "Lambert Sustris and El Greco." El Greco in Italy and Italian Art: Proceedings of the International Symposium. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Rethymno, Crete, 1999, p. 406.
José Álvarez Lopera. El retablo del Colegio de Doña María de Aragón de El Greco. Madrid, 2000, p. 71.
Leticia Ruiz. El Greco. Madrid, 2000, p. 59.
Ana Vázquez de la Cueva. La ingeniería civil en la pintura. Madrid, , pp. 116–17, ill. (color).
Fernando Marías. El Greco in Toledo. Ed. Moira Johnston. London, 2001, pp. 7, 10–11, ill. (color, overall and detail on cover), dates it about 1600.
Dawson W. Carr inEl Greco. Ed. Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and Fernando Checa Cremades. Exh. cat., Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Milan, 2001, pp. 180–81, no. 27, ill. (color), dates it about 1600.
Véronique Gerard Powell inÉcoles espagnole et portugaise. Paris, 2002, p. 120.
Keith Christiansen et al. inEl Greco. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. London, 2003, pp. 100, 143, 156, 178, 233–34, 284, no. 66, ill. pp. 232, 235 (color, overall and detail), dates this picture about 1597–99, noting that it appears to have served as a model for the background of El Greco's altarpiece in the Capilla de San José, Toledo, commissioned in 1597; adds that the view also appears in the artist's Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo), commissioned in 1607.
José Álvarez Lopera et al. inEl Greco / colaboraciones . . . Barcelona, 2003, pp. 183, 408, 424–25, 455–56, colorpl. XLI, mention that Ernest Hemingway [see Ref. Ross 1950] considered this the greatest painting in the Metropolitan Museum and assert that Hemingway was not responding to the painting's beauty, but saw the city as a powerful metaphor for the suffering of the Communists during the Spanish Civil War—the suffering of the individual in a hostile environment; add that Zuloaga refers to this painting in his "Portrait of Maurice Barrès with Toledo in the Background" (Musée Lorrain, Nancy) and in his two versions of "Toledo in Flames".
José Álvarez Lopera. "'El Greco' de Cossío: Gestación y primeras reacciones críticas." El Greco: The First Twenty Years in Spain. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Rethymno, Crete, 2005, p. 269, notes that Cossío viewed the sale in the early twentieth century of this painting, the portrait of Cardinal Niño de Guevara (MMA 29.100.5), and other works by El Greco, as an affront to the Spanish nation.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 19–20, fig. 10 [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, p. 16, fig. 10].
Pierre Rosenberg. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Milan, 2006, pp. 70–71, 231, ill. (color).
Eric Storm. De ontdekking van El Greco: Aartsvader van de moderne kunst. Amsterdam, 2006, pp. 125, 127 147, 160, 168–69, 222, fig. 14.
Richard L. Kagan. "The Artist's Clientele: El Greco as Businessman." El Greco's Studio. Ed. Nicos Hadjinicolaou. Iráklion, 2007, p. 44.
Sarah Schroth, and Ronni Baer, Sarah Schroth. El Greco to Velázquez: Art During the Reign of Philip III. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2008, pp. 186, 322, no. 4, ill. pp. 193, 290–91 (color, overall and detail).
Keith Christiansen inPhilippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977–2008. New York, 2009, p. 36.
Arturo Galansino inTitien, Tintoret, Véronèse . . . Rivalités à Venise. Ed. Vincent Delieuvin et al. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2009, p. 378, states that El Greco's skies in pictures such as this one have their genesis in Veronese's paintings such as his Crucifixion (San Lazzaro dei Mendicanti, Venice) that the artist would have seen during his second Venetian period.
Palma Martínez-Burgos García Promecal. El Greco en la Catedral. Exh. cat., Catedral de Burgos. [Burgos], , p. 96, ill. pp. 90–91, 97 (color, overall and details).
Daniel Joseph Polikoff. In the Image of Orpheus: Rilke, a Soul History. Wilmette, 2011, pp. 465–70, 475, 591, 664, 729 n. 831, ill.
Eric Storm. El descubrimiento del Greco: nacionalismo y arte moderno (1860–1914). Madrid, 2011, pp. 124, 127, 144, 156, 163–64, 215, fig. 32 (color) [Spanish translation of Storm 2006].
Takaoka Chikako inEl Greco's Visual Poetics. Exh. cat., National Museum of Art, Osaka. [Tokyo], 2012, pp. 16, 19 n. 7, pp. 277, 279 n. 7, fig. 3.
Birgit Thiemann inEl Greco and Modernism. Ed. Beat Wismer Michael Scholz-Hänsel. Exh. cat., Museum Kunstpalast. Ostfildern, 2012, p. 378.
Fernando Marías. El Greco, Life and Work—A New History. London, 2013, pp. 257, 297 n. 299, p. 338, ill. pp. 259 and 338 (color).
Javier Barón inEl Greco & la pintura moderna. Ed. Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2014, pp. 23, 115, 120, 176, 178, 184.
Veronika Schroeder inEl Greco & la pintura moderna. Ed. Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2014, pp. 208, 211–12, fig. 129 (color).
Jeffrey Schrader inEl Greco & la pintura moderna. Ed. Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2014, pp. 242, 245–46, ill. p. 240 (color detail).
Javier Portús inEl Greco & la pintura moderna. Ed. Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2014, pp. 288, 296, 306.
Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel and Flavie Durand-Ruel inInventing Impressionism: Paul Durand-Ruel and the Modern Art Market. Ed. Sylvie Patry. Exh. cat., Musée du Luxembourg, Paris. London, 2015, p. 40 [French ed., "Paul Durand-Ruel: le Pari de l'Impressionnisme," Paris, 2014, p. 38].
John Marciari. Italian, Spanish, and French Paintings Before 1850 in the San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, 2015, pp. 184, 186 n. 17.
Norbert Schneider. Von Bosch zu Bruegel: Niederländische Malerei im Zeitalter von Humanismus und Reformation. Berlin, 2015, p. 128.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 280, no. 200, ill. pp. 200, 280 (color).