An Allegory (Fàbula) by El Greco

A boy blows on a burning ember between a man and a monkey.


Oil on canvas Dimensions: 66 x 88 cm
Art Fund grant:
£100,000 ( Total: £1,269,303)
Acquired in:
Biggart, Bailie & Gifford

The meaning is obscure - allegorical, moral, or the recreation of a lost work from a classical text, ekphrasis. It is likely that the picture illustrates a Spanish proverb: 'Man is fire; Woman is tow; and the devil blows them into flame'. It certainly seems that Fabula contained some warning as to the consequences of 'playing with fire'. This painting has a lightness of touch and fluency of form. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


Feret, Paris; C.Cherfils, Paris; Dr James Simon (Berlin), sale Amsterdam, 1927.

Venue details

Scottish National Gallery The Mound Edinburgh EH2 2EL 0131 624 6200

Entry details

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