Fray Hortensio Felix Paravicino - rte

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Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino, El Greco, 1609
By ELIZABETH ELLIS 


In his earlier style of painting, El Greco depicts the Fray Hortensio Felix Paravicino, a famous poet and orator. It is one of his more stylized portraits, showing Paravicino head-on, his head tilted slightly to give an air of superiority with his books balanced on his hip. El Greco adds warmer tones of brown and red rather than focusing solely on colder blacks, as seen in his earlier portraits. The warm tones from the background and his books adds the glow in his skin and makes him seem more lifelike. 

The body language in the portrait and El Greco's use of rough strokes and shadows in the clothing and hair add to the emotional drama of the painting. El Greco is only beginning to develop his style with this portrait. We can start to see the emergence of his later glossy and thick painting style with the slight smudging of color around Paravicino's head and shoulders, giving his a slight glow. 

El Greco is also becoming more talented in his use of whites, making the white of Paravicino's collar brighter and highlighting his face so that the contrast between the black and white is sharper, in contrast to the rough off-white of his robe. His use of white gives the impression that the two white cloths are different types of cloth. El Greco is only starting to develop his style and talent as a painter with the portrait, as his human form is not quite lifelike, his painting style has not developed into the brighter and glossier technique he's well known for, and he has not yet pushed into more religious subjects. Still, El Greco's talent as a painter comes through in this portrait with its emotional depth seen in Paravicino's face. 

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