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Quarrels about payment are pretty common. A painting made in 1579 was the subject of a law suit because of payment troubles. The painting was titled El Espolio, the disrobing of Christ, and made by El Greco (whose real name was Domenicos Theotocopoulos) for the priests of the sacristy of the cathedral of Toledo. It is a picture in which Christ is bullied by Roman soldiers. A carpenter is busy making what appears to be the cross; a few spectators are anxiously observing the carpenter. In this huge painting, 285 by 173 cm, Christ is situated in the centre and wearing a striking red garment.

The priests asked for considerable readjustments after the painting was finished. El Greco refused, upon which the priests refused to pay him. They also thought the price was too high. The painter went several times to court, stating that El Espolio was one of the best paintings he ever made. Surprisingly, he won.

Maybe El Greco got himself good publicity by this bold action of going to court, the fact is that he became a wealthy man who owned a private orchestra to brighten up his dinners. He had a son by a Jewish woman, at a time when the Spanish Inquisition flourished and Jews and Mores were persecuted and murdered. He lived in Toledo, a town in Spain which was dominated by priests and monks. He was to paint many more devout, ascetic martyrs of the Catholic Church, stretched figures in a pale skin colour.

By the way, I particularly like his "View of Toledo". It is a strange, fascinating painting. White skeleton buildings linked by walls and gates against a dramatic dark blue sky and a glowing, yellowish foreground. Thunder seems to be imminent. I read somewhere that he reshuffled the buildings, so it is not a realistic view at all and to me it looks like a surprisingly modern piece of art.

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