Juraj Julije Klović, 1498–1578, by El Greco
Juraj Julije Klović, better known to art history as Giorgio Julio Clovio, was a distinguished miniaturist and the last great illuminator of manuscripts. Born in the Kvarner Gulf region in 1498, he worked in Venice for a time, then served Louis II, the King of Hungary. After the Turks killed that king in the disastrous Hungarian defeat at Mohacs, Klović returned to Italy, and spent the rest of his life working in Rome.

Pieter Breughel the Elder stayed with Klović when he visited Rome in 1558. The Croatian artist’s will mentions six of Breughel’s paintings, but all have disappeared.

He was also a friend and teacher of El Greco during the latter’s early years in Rome. The Cretan artist painted him twice. In the portrait shown here, Klović is pointing to his most famous work, an illuminated book of hours made for Cardinal Alexander Farnese (called after him the Farnese Hours). The manuscript, now in the Morgan Library in New York, is said to have been nine years in the making.

The other time Klović appears in an El Greco painting, he is one of the four painters whom El Greco considered his masters. The other three are Michelangelo, Titian, and Raphael. That’s pretty high company; it’s no wonder that Croatia is anxious to celebrate Klović has a native son.