"Men in Armor: El Greco and Pulzone Face to Face"

  • Art
  • Masterpiece
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Like knights of old, the subjects of these separate portraits by El Greco (1541–1614) and Scipione Pulzone (c. 1540/42–1598) seem to square off in a contrast of styles, resplendent in ceremonial armor that speaks to their status as military figures. Pulzone's portrait Jacopo Boncompagni depicts the commander of the papal army during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII, who was also Boncompagni's father (celibacy wasn't quite as celibate back then). El Greco's full-length rendering, Vincenzo Anastagi, shows the sergeant major of Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo, who served under Boncompagni. Though the two men were contemporaries, El Greco's composition, with its expressive brushwork and simplified background, seems startlingly modern compared to the refined treatment and formal pose of Pulzone's painting.

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