El Greco's "Boy Blowing an Ember"

Volume II: "A Closer Look" Series

Boy Blowing an Ember (1570-72) by El Greco (Domenico TheotokopoulosMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Originally from the Kindgom of Candia (modern day Crete), El Greco achieved fame as a painter in Spain. But from 1567-77, El Greco trained in Italy, learning the Italianate style. "Boy Blowing an Ember" dates to the artist's rare Italian phase.

In this nocturnal scene, a boy blows upon an ember to light a candle.

The boy holds a flaming ember in his left hand.

Observe how El Greco depicts the ember's flames with a series of energetic brushstrokes, imbuing the fire with internal energy.

Grasping a candle in his right hand, the boy lowers the candle towards the flame to ignite it.

The exposed charred wick suggests that the candle is moments from ignition. Look closely and you can see that a molten piece of wax is dripping down from the candle's end.

The boy focuses contently towards the action below, concentrating his gaze at the flame.

With puckered lips, he blows air towards the ember, providing oxygen to the flame. El Greco fashions the boy's mouth with thickly applied touches of paint, granting texture and tonal depth to the image.

Light emanating from the ember illumines the scene from within the painting. El Greco thus demonstrates his technical skills as a painter, creating an endearing image worthy of a closer look.

Credits: Story

Curated by James P. Anno

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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