Head of Christ

Maker and role
Artist: El Greco, Spanish, born Crete, 1541-1614
Workshop of: El Greco, Spanish, born Crete, 1541-1614
ca. 1579-ca. 1586
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Object detail

Oil on canvas
19 7/8 x 15 5/16in (50.5 x 38.9cm)
Credit line
Bequest of Marion Koogler McNay
Accession number
Object type
Further information
Scholars have proposed several theories why El Greco painted the McNay's Head of Christ. One expert suggest that the work was intended to hang with an image of Mater Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrows), a common pairing in Catholic Spain of the 1500s. Others think that an individual commissioned the painting as a personal devotional image. Still others believe that the work is a simplified version of the central figure's face in El Greco's earlier masterpiece, El Espolio (The Disrobing of Christ), which was painted in 1577 for the Toledo cathedral.
Subject period


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