Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino
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This El Greco portrait has some serious accolades.

A critic called this “one of the great portraits in the history of art.” John Singer Sargent himself peer-pressured MFA Boston to buy this painting.

It looks a lot like my friend Gordon who writes poetry. It’s not Gordon, but it is a poet. Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino was an influential Spanish court preacher who delivered Phillip III's (mad controversial) funeral oration, argued for the destruction of all paintings that were either really good or featured nudes, and also loved El Greco and his art.

Paravicino dedicated four sonnets to El Greco, and the painter made him this portrait in return. Paravicino’s ultra-conservative statements against too-good art might actually have come from this painting, which he said was a better home for his soul than his body. Destroy good art so that my soul will come back to my body, please. 

Can we talk for a second about how racist it is to call a guy named Domenikos Theotokopoulos “the Greek”? Then again, the Spanish inquisition isn’t known as the most progressive period in human history. El Greco actually helped translate the trial of a young Cretan boy accused of being a crypto-muslim, which sounds like a precursor to Bitcoin (it isn’t). Not-great though it was, Domenikos formally adopted El Greco as his continental stage-name, probably so that nobody confused him with the horribly intolerant Spaniards he lived amongst for 47 years.

Spain was so conservative at the time that the court deemed one of El Greco’s paintings insufficiently biblically accurate—they quoted too many Marys and onlookers that were too tall (i.e. taller than Jesus)—and forced him to accept a lower payment. For his part El Greco refused to answer any of their questions and only submitted to their demands when they threatened him with prison. What are you in for? ...Painting too many blessed Marys.




  1. Beatjer, Katherine. “El Greco.” Bulletin, Summer 1981. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981. Accessed March 15, 2018.
  2. “Fray Hortensia Félix Paravicinos.” Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2018. Accessed March 15, 2018.élix-paravici...
  3. Panagiotakes, Nikolaos M. El Greco – The Cretan Years. Translated by John Davis. New York: Routledge, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2018.
  4. “Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino.” Kunst Historiches Museum Wien, 2001. Accessed March 15, 2018.
  5. Portús, Javier. Vélasquez. Edited by Dawson W. Carr et al. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. Cited in “Hortensio Félix Paravicino.” Revolvy, 2016. Accessed March 15, 2018. Félix Paravi...

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravacino

Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravicino is a 1609 oil on canvas painting by El Greco, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It shows Hortensio Félix Paravicino, a monk of the Trinitarian Order and major Spanish poet who was also a close friend of the painter. He is shown in the Trinitarian habit.


  • (in Spanish) ÁLVAREZ LOPERA, José, El Greco, Madrid, Arlanza, 2005, Biblioteca «Descubrir el Arte», (colección «Grandes maestros»). ISBN 84-95503-44-1.
  • (in Spanish) SCHOLZ-HÄNSEL, Michael, El Greco, Colonia, Taschen, 2003. ISBN 978-3-8228-3173-1.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Portrait of Fray Hortensio Félix Paravacino.