View of Toledo

El Greco (c1597)

One of the earliest examples of landscape painting, this crackles with a symphony of apocalyptic colour. It might remind us of The Book of Revelations: I saw a new heaven and a new earth”. Even now its a real jolt of modernity: a sky that explodes a storm of light through the picture, and a weird, gothic city that resembles lightning in built form. You can practically hear the thunder rumble and touch the droplets of rain. Look at the visionary use of colour – its miraculous, altered state makes us look again at the very act of seeing. Although Toledo was home to El Greco, and good to him, he gives the place a brutal, forbidding air, and even commits the heresy of dislocating the cathedral from its actual site – the artist as omnipotent creator. In setting Toledo as the stage of the apocalypse, hes making it a holy city: he creates his own holy city, though, and the viewer is gripped and terrified by this battle between trouble and triumph.