The language of gestures in some of El Greco's altarpieces
This study explores El Greco's language of gestures. The first part will explain the preconditions for the general development towards rhetorical gestures and draw parallels with El Greco's artistic development in the sphere of gestures. In addition, handbooks on gestures are introduced. The second part will analyse how El Greco applied gestures, using examples of his paintings. It will reveal how El Greco developed some gestures over more than thirty years, and how he creates with their help an intense concentrated mood in his paintings. It will also demonstrate how he worked by means of hyperbole to evoke an inspiring atmosphere, how he created space with the help of gestures and gaze, and how he transformed the meaning of some 'model' gestures he took over from famous Italian painters. Finally, this work seeks to renew and intensify the analysis of gestures in painting as a way of approaching the paintings and revealing layers of meaning that can not be found by an analysis solely focused on iconographic topics. In this study the body is taken as a mediator of signs, difficult to read, but decipherable. This study is intended to be a step forward in approaching a deeper understanding of the codified language of gesture. It should open the way to an intensified concern with the language of gestures, with the reading of bodily signs in paintings.