Religion: NT. Purification of the temple. Christ driving the money-changers from the temple with a whip.

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, c. 1570-75

Oil on canvasexpand_more

The William Hood Dunwoody Fundexpand_more  24.1

Christ’s expulsion of the money changers who were desecrating the temple in Jerusalem was a popular theme in Italy in this period. To Catholics, the image symbolized the purification of the Church through internal reform and the expulsion of Protestant heretics. El Greco depicts a chaotic swirl of figures writhing in pain around Christ, who solemnly and calmly wields a scourge to rid the temple of greed and sin.

A native of Crete, the artist became known as “El Greco” (the Greek) after moving to Italy in 1567, but his full signature in Greek letters appears here on the step below Christ. Set in a grand architectural interior, the scene reflects El Greco’s experiments with Italian linear perspective and break from the Byzantine style he employed in the Greek icons painted in his youth. In the lower-right corner, El Greco portrayed four artists: Titian, Michelangelo, Giulio Clovio (a miniaturist and manuscript illuminator), and Raphael. Clovio had secured lodgings for El Greco in Rome at the Palazzo Farnese, a grand Renaissance palace belonging to the illustrious Farnese family. In a gesture of friendship, El Greco included Clovio in the painting alongside the three masters of the Italian Renaissance he wished to emulate. El Greco likely painted this work right after moving to Rome from Venice in late 1570. He eventually settled in Spain in 1577.

Explore

Audio

El Greco, Christ Driving the Money Changers (#522)
Details
Title
Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple
Artist Life
1541–1614
Role
Artist
Accession Number
24.1
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Religion: NT. Purification of the temple. Christ driving the money-changers from the temple with a whip.