El Greco’s c.1600 painting, The Repentant Peter, depicts the biblical figure in remorseful prayer with his hands joined and the keys of heaven tied around his waist. Peter’s tear-filled eyes are turned upward to heaven, which conveys a sense of extreme penance. This scene is linked to Luke 22:62, where Peter realizes he has denied Christ three times.
The Greek Mannerist artist is known for producing at least six different versions of The Repentant Saint Peter throughout his career in Spain. He succeeded in creating a dramatic image by emphasizing features such as Peter’s long neck and using bold colors for his garments. El Greco’s version of the painting is currently held at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.
Interestingly, Goya also painted The Repentant Saint Peter, but nearly two centuries after El Greco had completed his work. Nonetheless, both paintings showcase similar themes of repentance and spiritual reflection that resonate even today.
Overall, El Greco’s The Repentant Peter remains an iconic example of religious art from the Spanish Renaissance period. Its emotional depth and stunning use of color make it a truly captivating work that inspires reverence among viewers across generations.