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Father Bernard Praying in the Portes Charterhouse
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

Florence (Italy), 1576 - Madrid (Spain), 1638

Carducho, Vicente See author's file

Father Bernard Praying in the Portes Charterhouse

1632. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

On August 29, 1626, King Philip IV’s painter, Vicente Carducho (ca. 1576-1638), signed a contract for the creation of a cycle of paintings to celebrate the founding of the Carthusian Order by Saint Bruno and its leading members. This colossal undertaking sought to visually narrate numerous episodes from the Carthusians’ history and tradition. It was the most complete commission ever dedicated to this order, a series of fifty-four large canvases and two more of a smaller size with the coats of arms of the king and the order. This project was originally conceived by Father Juan de Baeza (d. 1641), a fundamental figure for the Carthusians’ spirituality and organization who closely controlled compliance with that order’s postulates. Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.

In terms of its narrative content, the group was organized in two parts: the first twenty-seven canvases illustrate the life of the order’s founder, Saint Bruno of Cologne (1035-1101), from the moment he decided to abandon public life and retire to the Grande Chartreuse Valley, north of Grenoble, through this death and first posthumous miracle. The second group glosses meaningful episodes in the order’s history, which took place in the principle European charterhouses between the 11th and 16th centuries. This group reveals the order’s strong founding drive, as well as some of its identity traits, including withdrawal to solitary and very beautiful settings, and a life of humility, mortification and penance, dedicated to study and prayer. The second group closes with a set of heroic scenes that represent episodes of persecution and martyrdom suffered by some Carthusian communities during the 15th and 16th centuries -images that seek to strengthen the monks’ faith while depicting Europe’s religious and territorial conflicts at that time.

The series was painted between 1626 and 1632, following a laborious creative process that included the production of numerous drawings and sketches, as well as the necessary participation of some assistants. Like most 16th and 17th -century cloister series, this project was originally conceived by Carducho as a mural group. Over the course of his extensive career, he had already demonstrated his mastery of fresco painting, which was the most characteristic and, a priori, appropriate for this type of narrative cycle -at least in Italy, where every detail of this technique was known. However, the complexity of the project, the location of El Paular, and the order’s rigorous cloistering probably argued against the use of that technique. The large canvases have a semicircular arch at the top to fit the gothic segments of the cloister designed by Juan de Egas between 1484 and 1486.

At the center of the composition, Bernard prays before an altar in the Portes Charterhouse at Belley, France. Founded in 1115, it was the third after la Chartreuse and Santa Maria della Torre (Italy). Bernardo was prior of Portes and the short cape he wears over his Carthusian habit indicates he reached the rank of bishop. His tomb, which appears in the background, became a pilgrimage site for its alleged healing powers. Carducho’s depiction resembles innumerable tombs found in churches in Catholic cities such as Rome or Madrid: the veil that covers it has been pulled back and the infirm surround it in hopes of benefiting from the miraculous powers associated with the saint’s body and the ex-votos they have presented, including silver lamps and other more humble offerings, such as wax figures of the sort visible on the wall to the left (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. and Carlos Varona, M. C. de, in: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190, 211).

Technical data

Inventory number
Carducho, Vicente
Father Bernard Praying in the Portes Charterhouse
Height: 336.5 cm; Width: 298 cm
Historia de la Orden de los Cartujos. Cartuja de El Paular, Rascafría, Madrid
Rascafría (Madrid), Cartuja de Santa María de El Paular, cloister; Museo de la Trinidad.

Bibliography +

Cruzada Villaamil, Gregorio, Catálogo provisional, historial y razonado del Museo Nacional de Pinturas, Madrid, 1865, pp. 6.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991.

Beutler, Werner, Vicente Carducho : Der Grosse Kartauserzyklus in el Paular, Institut Fur Anglistik Und Amerikan, Salzburgo, 1997, pp. 196.

Orihuela, Mercedes y Cenalmor, Elena, El ''Prado disperso''. Obras depositadas en Valladolid y Palencia. Valladolid. Universidad, Boletín del Museo del Prado, 24, 2006, pp. 120.

Ruiz Gómez, Leticia, 'La recuperación de la serie cartujana de El Paular' En:, La recuperación de El Paular, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Madrid, 2013, pp. 186-202.

'Los Carduchos del Museo del Prado de la Cartuja de El Paular. Secuencia ordenada de la serie de V.Carducho para El Paular' En:, La recuperación de El Paular, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Madrid, 2013, pp. 217-233 [225 f.409].

de Carlos Varona, Mª Cruz, 'Vicente Carducho en El Paular, la elaboración de un imaginario cartujano' En:, La recuperación de El Paular, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Madrid, 2013, pp. 203-216.

Pascual Chenel, A.; Rodríguez Rebollo, A., Vicente Carducho and drawings of 'The life and posthumous miracles of St. Diego of Alcalá', Master drawings, LII (4), 2014, pp. 481-496 [492 f.14].

Pascual Chenel, Á.; Rodríguez Rebollo, A., Vicente Carducho. Dibujos Catálogo razonado, Biblioteca Nacional de España - Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, Madrid, 2015, pp. 337-440 [236, 382-383 f.111].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 12.
12. S. Bruno orando. / El Santo, de rodillas y con las manos juntas por las palmas, reza fervorosamente delante de un altar, sobre el cual hay una efigie de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo crucificado. Por un rompimiento que hay figurado en la parte izquierda del cuadro, se ve en último término el interior de un templo y en el fondo un sepulcro, al cual se acercan varios enfermos para implorar, por intercesión de S. Bruno, el milagro de la curacion de sus dolencias. / Este cuadro es uno de los publicados en el tomo II de El Arte en España.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 12.
12. San Bruno. / En el centro del cuadro esta el santo de rodillas en actitud de orar, ante un altar donde hay un crucifijo, en segundo término y á la derecha se ven varios enfermos tullidos cn figuras de tamaño natural y cuerpo entero. / Firmado Vicente Carducho 1632 / Rdo. Alto 3,43; ancho 3,01. / / Nº 37 C.B.

Inscriptions +

Signed and dated. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower right corner

Location +

Rascafría - Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular (Deposit)

Displayed objects +


Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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