Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Tanya J Tiffany

Second Advisor

Richard Leson


Cartography, Early Modern Spain, El Greco, Pedro Salazar de Mendoza, Toledo, Vista y Plano de Toledo


El Greco’s View and Plan of Toledo (c. 1610, Museo del Greco, Toledo) explores multiple ways of representing space by juxtaposing a sweeping view of the city of Toledo with a trompe l’oeil map of the city’s streets. Recent scholarship has shown that that El Greco probably copied the map from a plan of Toledo in the Atlas de El Escorial (1538-45), a royal commission that would have been the first complete atlas of Spain. Significantly, this atlas was likely available to the owner and probable patron of View and Plan of Toledo, the scholar and map collector Pedro Salazar de Mendoza. Although art historians have often seen View and Plan of Toledo as an expression of El Greco’s singular, “self-conscious” skill as a painter and draughtsman, I argue the painting should be read as an intellectual collaboration between the artist and Salazar. In the painting, El Greco gave pictorial form to Toledan geography, theology, history and law, themes that are likewise reflected in Pedro Salazar’s writings and post-mortem inventories. I draw from various seventeenth-century images and texts, including El Greco’s body of work, the work of Cretan icon painters, maps and books from Salazar’s collection, and texts and treatises circulating in the seventeenth century to re-orient contemporary scholarship on the painting and re-illuminate this enigmatic cityscape.