Cristo cura al ciego

Tipo de objeto



El Greco painted this masterpiece of dramatic storytelling either in Venice or in Rome, where he worked after leaving Crete in 1567 and before moving to Spain in 1576. It illustrates the Gospel account of Christ healing a blind man by anointing his eyes. The two figures in the foreground may be the blind man’s parents. The upper left portion of the composition is unfinished. El Greco painted two other versions of the subject, and seems to have taken this one with him to Spain.

First recorded in 1888 as the work of Tintoretto and later ascribed to Veronese, this painting was only recognized as the work of El Greco in 1958: of his three versions of this subject, it is the only one not signed. It is the largest of the three, being more than twice the size of the painting in the Galleria Nazionale in Parma and about the same size as The Purification of the Temple in Minneapolis, with which it must be more or less contemporary. It is also the most sketchy in execution and is, indeed, unfinished, in particular the circular temple and the back row of heads at the left, two of which are no more than blocked in. The two seated figures in the middle ground are so thinly painted that the pavement is visible through them. (While El Greco painted the pavement around the two principal figure groups, the secondary figures, including the two bust-length figures in the foreground, as well as parts of the architecture were painted over it.)

El Greco's interpretation of the miracle represents a synthesis of the three Gospel accounts of it. As Christ leaves the Temple, he encounters two blind men and restores their sight by touching their eyes. One is shown from the back, gesturing upwards in excitement, while the other kneels before Christ, who anoints his eye. To the right are the neighbors and Pharisees who objected to Christ healing "a man blind from his birth" on the Sabbath; the two bust-length figures in the foreground may be the parents of the blind man, summoned to confirm that their son had, indeed, been born blind. In effect, the picture transforms the biblical narrative into an exegesis of Christ's divine powers. In this it is very unlike earlier depictions or, indeed, such contemporary works as Livio Agresti's altarpiece of the same subject in Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome.

By comparison to the version of the subject in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, the groups of figures are better articulated and the diminution of the figures in space is more accentuated. The figure of the gesturing blind man has been added, his pose evidently taken from an engraving by Giulio Bonasone after a design by Perino del Vaga for Saints John and Peter Healing at the Golden Gate, and a circular temple has been introduced (this detail may derive from Taddeo Zuccaro's fresco of Saint Paul Healing the Cripple in San Marcello al Corso, Rome). The two bust-length figures in the foreground, who occupy a lower space, may reflect Francesco Salviati's fresco of 1538 in the Oratory of San Giovanni Decollato in Venice, though analogies for their poses have also been found in an engraving of The Birth of the Virgin from the school of Marcantonio Raimondi and in a print of The Nativity by Parmigianino.

Until recently there was a consensus of opinion that the MMA canvas was the latest of the three treatments of the subject and possibly dated from El Greco's first years in Spain. The picture was certainly known there, as two Spanish copies of it exist. Moreover, the brilliant palette recalls that of The Assumption of the Virgin commissioned in 1577 for the high altar of Santo Domingo in Toledo. However, in 1991 Vechnyak made a compelling case for dating the MMA canvas between the Dresden and Parma pictures, and her arguments have been taken up by a number of scholars, notably Held and Schütz. Certainly, the Parma picture contains many more references to Roman pictorial and architectural traditions and also adopts a more subdued palette. The MMA canvas may represent El Greco's initial response to Rome—a response that was quickly superseded by a more intimate knowledge of Roman practice. That might explain why the picture was never brought to conclusion. In this case, the unfinished canvas might have been kept by the artist and taken to Spain, where the two copies were surely made. But another possibility is that the absence of some of the most Roman features found in the Parma version denote a reaffirmation by El Greco of his sympathies for Venetian art and may reflect a return trip to Venice following an unsuccessful bid for patronage in Rome. Such a second Venetian trip, first proposed by Zottmann in 1906–7, has been repeatedly argued by Puppi. However, the contacts for his first major commissions in Toledo seem to have originated in the circle of Fulvio Orsini in Rome—not in Venice—and suggest El Greco's continued presence in the papal city.




Estado / edición

Presenta algún pormenor incompleto en la zona de la izquierda

Otros títulos / nombres

  • The Miracle of Christ Healing the Blind


1958-1960 Adquisición

Agnew, London, 1958–60; sold to Wrightsman; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1960–78)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)