The Renaissance began earlier in Byzantium than it did in the West, with Constantinople and Mystras as its main centres, but was stymied when Byzantium fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Thus, the Greek world was cut off from the Renaissance of Western Europe, with the exception of certain non-Ottoman occupied regions, such as the Venetian-ruled Ionian Islands and Crete. Crete, in particular, experienced a fruitful fusion of Byzantine and western European culture in the areas of poetry, drama, architecture and painting. The most emblematic artist to emerge from the Cretan Renaissance was Domenikos Theotokopoulos (“El Greco”, 1541-1614): after mastering both the maniera greca and the maniera latina in his native Candia (present-day Heraklion), Theotokopoulos perfected his technique in Venice and Rome, where he studied the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian. He ultimately moved to Toledo, where he painted his mature works, which never fail to amaze
and inspire with their intense spirituality, mystical vision and expressionistic approach.
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