Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple by El Greco is a Mannerist oil painting on canvas that depicts the biblical event of Christ purging the Temple of traders selling animals for sacrifice. The painting showcases theatrical gestures and intense colors to depict the chaos and disruption of the event. This theme became more popular in the latter half of the 16th century due to the Council of Trent’s promotion of it as a symbol of the Catholic Church’s efforts to purify itself after the Protestant Reformation.
The painting portrays Christ solemnly and calmly wielding a scourge while ridding the temple of greed and sin, while figures around him writhe in pain. El Greco, a native of Crete who became known as “El Greco” (the Greek) after moving to Italy in 1567, signed the painting with his full signature in Greek letters on the painting’s step below Christ. The lower right corner portrays four artists – Titian, Michelangelo, Giulio Clovio, and Raphael – who El Greco regarded as the giants of the Renaissance. The painting is now housed in the National Gallery in London.
Overall, “Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple” is a captivating artwork that showcases El Greco’s unique style and technique in conveying the religious event. The painting stands as a vivid representation of the significance of purification within the Catholic Church during this period.”