El Greco (1541–1614)
Purification of the Temple, ca. 1600
Oil on canvas
16 1/2 x 20 5/8 in. (41.9 x 52.4 cm)
Purchased in 1909
During the Counter Reformation, the subject of Christ driving the traders from the temple had a special significance as a reference to the eradication of heresy from the Church. El Greco repeated the theme throughout his career, and his workshop produced many versions of this composition. During Henry Clay Frick’s second trip to Spain, he bought this painting from the art historian Aureliano de Beruete. That Frick considered El Greco to be an inherently modern master was reflected in his display of this canvas in his private sitting room with Manet’s Bullfight and Degas’s Rehearsal.