Definitions

El

El

[el]
Jadida, El: see El Jadida, Morocco.
Obeid, El: see Al Ubayyid, Sudan.
Greco, El, c.1541-1614, Greek painter in Spain, b. Candia (Iráklion), Crete. His real name was Domenicos Theotocopoulos, of which several Italian and Spanish versions are current.

Trained first in the Byzantine school of icon painting, in 1567 he went to Venice, where he is known to have studied under Titian; thereafter (1570-77) he painted in Rome. By late 1577, El Greco was established in Toledo and at work on the altar of the Church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo. The center painting of this group, the Assumption, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, shows marked Italian influence. His next great works, El espolio de las vestiduras (cathedral, Toledo) and San Mauricio (Escorial) indicate a rapid development. The second was commissioned by Philip II, but he rejected it.

El Greco remained in Toledo, then an abandoned and rapidly dwindling capital whose proud and recalcitrant nobility were driven wholesale into the church as their only remaining vocation. He has left superb portraits of their ascetic faces, and in the foreground of his famous Burial of the Count Orgaz (Church of San Tomé, Toledo) it is they who are assembled at the funeral of the count, whose soul is seen ascending to Christ in the upper part of the painting. This masterpiece, painted in 1586, was followed by many others in which the artist, then mature, brought into play every resource of his dynamic art to express religious ecstasy. Flamelike lines, accentuated by vivid highlights, elongated and distorted figures, and full vibrant color contrasted with subtle grays all combine to produce a unique art.

Among his many great works of this period are the Baptism, Crucifixion, and Resurrection (Prado); a portrait of the inquisitor Cardinal Don Fernando Niño de Guevara (Metropolitan Mus.); two similar versions of St. Jerome (one in the National Gall., London; one in the Frick Coll., New York City); and a long series of paintings of St. Francis. Indeed, many of El Greco's paintings exist in multiple interpretations of the same subject, each with variations that range from the profound to the subtle. To his last period, a time of deepening mysticism, belong such works as the Assumption (Mus. of San Vicente Anejo, Toledo); Adoration and View of Toledo (Metropolitan Mus.); the Pentecost (Prado); a portrait of Hortensio Felix Paravicino (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston); and the Laocoön (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.).

In his own day his admirers seem to have been intellectuals, such as Fulvio Orsini, the lawyer Lancilotti, and Giulio Clovio. Paravicino, the court preacher, was his friend and apologist. Overshadowed by the more popular masterpieces of Velázquez and Murillo, his work became less and less known, especially outside Spain. At the end of the 19th cent. his paintings started to come under art critical scrutiny, and in the mid-20th cent. El Greco became widely celebrated, largely because his idiosyncratic and intensely expressionistic style (see expressionism), his flickering light and indeterminate space, and his bold and almost abstract use of paint appealed strongly to contemporary tastes. Splendid examples of his vast production exist in many European and American galleries and collections. He is best seen in Toledo, Madrid, and the Escorial. A museum has been devoted to his work in what is said to have been his home in Toledo.

Bibliography

See studies by L. Goldscheider (3d ed. 1954), P. Kelemen (1961), H. E. Wethey (1962), L. Bronstein (1967), J. Gudiol (tr. 1973), and D. Davies, ed. (2003).

Salvador, El: see El Salvador.
Rashid, El, Syria: see Ar Raqqah.
Beqa, El: see Biqa, Al.
Camino Real, El [Span.,=The Royal Road]. There are Camino Reals in most former Spanish possessions, including four in former Spanish territory in the United States. Probably the best-known American trail of this name, also called the Mission Trail, leads north from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond, running some 530 mi (853 km). The name is most commonly applied to the part of the trail north of Los Angeles. El Camino Real connected California's Franciscan missions and ran through such settlements as Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Juan Capistrano, Carmel, and Sonoma. The missions were mainly founded by two priests, Fr. Junípero Serra and his successor, Fr. Fermín Lasuén, in the period from 1769 to 1803. Together they established 18 of the 21 missions, many of them still extant and some extensively renovated, that flourished until the Mexican government ordered their secularization in 1833. Today, the surviving mission churches are houses of worship, tourist attractions, and icons of Spanish-American architecture. Route 101 follows much of the the old trail's route. The name El Camino Real also designates the 700 mi (1,100 km) New Mexican trail that was pioneered by Juan de Oñate in 1598 and formed the lifeline of Spain's New Mexican colony.
Faiyum, El, or Al Fayyum, region, coextensive with El Faiyum governorate, N Egypt, W of the Nile River, a depression (entirely below sea level) in the Libyan (or Western) Desert. It is an irrigated agricultural area made fertile by Nile water and silt, which are carried there by the canalized Bahr Yusuf River. The irrigation system in El Faiyum makes use of canals originally dug under King Amenemhet III (d.1801 B.C.). Cereals, fruit, and cotton are produced. Lake Karun (known in ancient times as Lake Moeris), located in the western part of the region, is used for fishing. El Faiyum is rich in archaeological finds. These include the remains of a Neolithic farm settlement and many papyri written both in ancient Egyptian and in Arabic. The city of El Faiyum (1986 pop. 213,070), located in the southeastern part of the governorate and its capital, is the region's trade, distribution, manufacturing, and transport center. Industries include cotton ginning, wool and cotton spinning and weaving, dyeing, tanning, and cigarette manufacturing.
Toboso, El, town, Toledo prov., central Spain, in Castile-La Mancha. It is an agricultural center of La Mancha. El Toboso was the birthplace of Dulcinea del Toboso in Cervantes's Don Quixote.
Bika, El: see Biqa, Al.
Lissitzky, El (Eliezer Markovich Lissitzky), 1890-1941, Russian painter, designer, teacher, and architect. Lissitzky studied at Darmstadt and later taught at the Moscow Academy of Arts, collaborating with avant-garde artists and architects. Begun in 1919, his series of abstract geometric paintings entitled Proun (an acronym for "project for the affirmation of the new"), as well as his many prints, were key works in Russia's suprematist movement (see suprematism). Lissitzky left Russia (1921) after Lenin issued an edict against the avant-garde. Living in Germany, he introduced suprematist and constructivist ideas to László Moholy-Nagy and had a significant influence on the Bauhaus movement. Before returning (1928) to the Soviet Union he designed the Russian section of the Cologne Newspaper Exhibition, one of his many severely abstract exhibition designs. Lissitzky was also an important innovator in typography and advertising. His writings about architecture include Russia: The Reconstruction of Architecture in the Soviet Union (1930).

See biography by his wife, S. Lissitzky-Küppers (tr. 1968, repr. 1980); studies by V. Margolin (1997), M. Tuppitsyn (1999), and N. Perloff and B. Reed, ed. (2003).

Kantara, El, Egypt: see Qantarah esh Sharqiya.
Cobre, El, town, Santiago de Cuba prov., SE Cuba, in a high valley of the Sierra Maestra. Once famous for rich copper mines (hence the name El Cobre), it is chiefly noted for a shrine to Our Lady of Charity (La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), Cuba's patron saint.
Misti, El, dormant volcano, c.19,150 ft (5,840 m) high, in the Cordillera Occidental, S Peru, rising over the city of Arequipa. El Misti is flanked by two other volcanos—on the NW by Chachani, 19,960 ft (6,083 m) high, and on the SE by Pichu Pichu, 18,400 ft (5,608 m) high. El Misti, with its perfect snowcapped cone, apparently achieved significance in the Inca religion, and has often figured in Peruvian legends and poetry.
Alamein, El or Al Alamayn, town, N Egypt, on the Mediterranean Sea. It was the site of a decisive British victory in World War II (see North Africa, campaigns in). In preparation for an attack by German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel from Libya (begun May 26, 1942) the British forces retreated into Egypt and by June 30 had set up a defense line extending 35 mi (56 km) from Alamein S to the Qattara Depression, a badland which could neither be crossed nor flanked. If this position had fallen, the British might have lost Alexandria and been forced to withdraw from North Africa. In August, Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery took command of the 8th Army. The British offensive opened on Oct. 23 with tremendous air and artillery bombardments. Montgomery's forces cleared the German minefields and on Nov. 1 and 2 burst through the German lines near the sea and forced a swift Axis retreat out of Egypt, across Libya, and into E Tunisia. Egypt was definitely saved, and with the landing on Nov. 7 and 8 of American troops in Algeria the Axis soon suffered (May, 1943) total defeat in North Africa. For his victory Montgomery was made a viscount with the title Montgomery of Alamein.

See studies by M. Carver (1962) and J. Latimer (2002).

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