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Landscape with a Carthusian (Saint Bruno?)
Swanevelt, Herman van
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Swanevelt, Herman van

Woerden (Netherlands), 1603 - Paris (France), 1655

See author's file

Landscape with a Carthusian (Saint Bruno)?

1636 - 1638. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

The painting entered the Museum holdings as an original work by Jan Both. In 1959 Blunt identifies it as the landscape listed in the 1701 inventory of the Palace of the Buen Retiro and maintains the attribution to Both, as does Roethlisberger (1961). However, Waddingham (1960) ascribes it to Herman van Swanevelt, an attribution backed by Luna (1984) and officially adopted by the Museum in 1985. This ascription is supported by Barghahn (1986), Galera Mendoza (2001), Capitelli (2003) and Steland (forthcoming).

The scene shows a Carthusian in a stark landscape setting. It may possibly be Saint Bruno, the founder of the Carthusian Order -one of the hermitages in the grounds of the Buen Retiro was devoted to him- in his retreat in the massif of Chartreuse, in the bishopric of Grenoble, where Saint Hugo, bishop of the diocese, had allowed him to establish himself along with six colleagues to live the life of prayer. Bruno founded the Order`s first monastery there in 1084. The monk stands at the entrance to a cave which houses a chapel with an altarpiece. In his right hand he holds one of the fruits (a tulip bulb) he has taken from the basket he carries in his left arm. In front of the cave stretches a garden formed by ornamental flowerbeds laid out around a fountain.

Both the garden and the fountain and flowers depicted (tulips, lilies, Madonna lilies, sunflowers) are Marian symbols. But the fountain may also allude to the spring which, according to tradition, emanated from the ground shortly after the monks established themselves there. If so, the scene would be set in Chartreuse, as would appear to be supported by the wooden huts and the small chapel dotting the landscape behind the garden wall, which, according to tradition, were part of this first monastery. Towards the background and in the distance it is possible to discern a sturdier construction which, as Luna points out, could allude to the second Carthusian monastery founded by Saint Bruno in 1090 in the Serra di Torre in Calabria, where he died around 1101.

The painting repeats the compositional structure and treatment of light found in the previous landscape. However, here the scene is framed on the left by a single tree. Looming behind it, in the mid-ground, there is also a rock face, but here it does not extend as far as the upper edge of the picture. The sky thus occupies more space than in the previous painting and the scene opens out more onto the landscape. The background is bathed in a warm dusk light. Standing out in the sombre foreground are the powerfully illuminated figure of the monk and the rocky crag behind him. The leaves of the tree on the left, rendered in the manner of small claws, and the trunks are characteristic of Van Swanevelt. The execution of the rocks reveals the influence of Cornelis van Poelenburch.

As with the previous picture, Steland relates this landscape to those in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome painted by Van Swanevelt towards 1633-34. It should be pointed out that a mountain massif similar to the one depicted here also appears in some of the etchings made by the painter in Paris many years later, such as La Montagne or The Great Waterfall. Scholars have also speculated about the authorship of the figure in this case. The X-ray shows that it was added after the completion of the rock, one of the facets of which was used to shape part of the sleeve of the arm that supports the basket. Waddingham (1960) suggests that it may be the work of the Frenchman Jacques Stella (1596-1657) or another painter from his circle or from that of Sébastien Bourdon (1616-1671); Capitelli (2004) suggests a painter from the circle of Andrea Sacchi (ca. 1599-1661) or Jan Miel (1599-1664), who arrived in Rome in 1636; and Steland proposes Jean Tassel (1608-1667), who is documented in Rome in 1634. However Russell (1982) also attributes it to the painter, as he sees a resemblance with the figure of the Magdalene in Noli me tangere, one of the landscapes Van Swanevelt painted for the Galleria Doria Pamphilj.

The authorship of the garden is also disputed -not only because the flowers, by any reckoning, are out of proportion with respect to the other elements of the composition, but because there is no other known still-life of flowers in Van Swanevelt`s paintings. The X-ray shows that they are superimposed over the walls separating the flowerbeds.

Waddingham describes the garden as Brueghelian. Capitelli believes it may possibly be the work of a Flemish still-life painter and Steland suggests a follower of Jan Brueghel the Elder (Text drawn from Posada Kubissa, T.: Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo razonado, 2009, p. 328).


Technical data

Inventory number
Swanevelt, Herman van
Landscape with a Carthusian (Saint Bruno?)
1636 - 1638
Height: 158 cm; Width: 234 cm
Paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro
Royal Collection (Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid, 1701, [no. 172]; New Royal Palace, Madrid, "estudio de Andrés de la Calleja", 1772, no. 172; Buen Retiro, 1794, no. 126).

Bibliography +

Blunt, Anthony, Poussin Studies VIII - A series of Anchorite subjects commissioned by Philip IV from Poussin, Claude and others, The Burlington magazine, 1959, pp. 389-390.

Waddingham, Malcom R., Herman van Swanevelt in Rome, Paragone, 121, 1960, pp. 37-50 [41-42,44 il.24].

Roethlisberger, Marcel G., Claude Lorrain. The Paintings., I, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1961, pp. 156-157.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Valdivieso, Enrique, Pintura Holandesa del siglo XVII en españa, Universidad, Valladolid, 1973, pp. 376.

Inventarios reales: testamentaria del Rey Carlos II : 1701-1, II, Museo del PradoPatronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1975, pp. nº172.

Salerno, Luigi, Pittori di paesaggio del Seicento a Roma = Landscape painter, Ugo Bozzi, Roma, 1977, pp. 411.

Russell, D., Claude Gellée dit Le Lorrain: 1600-1682, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 1983, pp. 78.

Claudio de Lorena y el ideal clásico de paisaje en el siglo, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1984, pp. 186, nº65.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 661.

Barghahn, Barbara Von, Philip IV and the Golden House of the Buen Retiro in the Tradition of Caesar, II, Garland PublishingInc., Nueva York, 1986, pp. 191-209 Lám. 789.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº1784.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 451.

Oberhuber, Konrad, Die klassische Landschaft, Bonn, 1999, pp. 79-83.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Velázquez, Rubens, Lorrain: Malerei am Hof Philipps IV, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deu, Bonn, 1999, pp. 174.

Galera, Esther, Herman van Swanevelt y la pintura de paisaje en la Colección Real española, Goya: Revista de Arte, 280, 2001, pp. 21-29 [26].

Capitelli, Giovanna, Los paisajes para el Palacio del Buen Retiro, En: El Palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2005, pp. 241-284 [254-257 Lám.79].

Het zuiden tegemoet : de landschappen van Herman van Swaneve..., P.S. Items: Stadsmuseum Woerden, Harderwijk, 2007, pp. 39-40.

Merot, Alain, Du paysage en peinture : dans l' Occident moderne, Gallimard, 2009, pp. 228.

Steland, Anne Charlotte., Herman van swanevelt (um 1603-1655). Gemälde und Zeicnungen, Petersberg, 2009.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Pintura holandesa en el Museo Nacional del Prado.Catálogo, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2009, pp. 207-210.

Steland, Anne Charlotte, Herman van Swanevelt (um 1603-1655): Gemälde und Zeichnungen, Michael Imhof, Petersberg, 2010, pp. 172.

Russell, Susan, 'Salvator Rosa and Herman van Swanevelt', Convegno internazionale di studi Salvator Rosa e il suo tempo 1615-1673. [Roma, Sapienza Università y Biblioteca Hertziana,12 y 13 enero, 2009.], Roma, 2010, pp. 335-356 [336 f.8 nt.9,342,353].

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, El paisaje nórdico en el Prado: Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 140-141,144, 164 / 50.

Roma naturaleza e ideal: paisajes 1600-1650, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2011, pp. 43, 202-3.

Posada Kubissa, Teresa, Rubens, Brueghel, Lorrain. A Paisagem Nórdica do Museu do Prado, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga - INCM - Museo Nacional del Prado, Lisboa, 2013, pp. 139,161 n.50.

Other inventories +

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos II, Buen Retiro, 1701-1703. Núm. [172].
[172] Un Pais de Dos varas y media de largo y siette quartas de alto de el Ytaliano Con Vn San Bruno y Un Berjel Con marco tallado y dorado tassada en settenta doblones ... 4.200

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1873-1907. Núm. 1193.
1193.-(1784-R.)-País con San Bruno en el yermo.-Valle al pié de un gran peñasco y en él la gruta del Santo.-Figuras de A.Both-Compañero del anterior. / Alto 1,58; ancho 2,32.-L.

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1794. Núm. 126.
{2489} 126. Otra [pintura] de Claudio Lorenès. Sn. Bruno en un Pais con una gruta, de dos varas menos seis dedos de alto y dos y tres quartas de ancho ... 3.000

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. 172.
Estudio de don Andres de la Calleja Pintor de Cámara de su magd. [...] 172 / = Retiro= Otro de San Bruno y Bergel igual a los antecedentes [tres varas menos quarta de ancho y dos escasas de caida] i original de lorenes

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1784.
J. Both / 1784. Pais montuoso. / Hay un valle al pie de un gran peñasco. Al lado de una gruta aparece san bruno con una cesta de higos. / Figura de Andres both. / Alto 5 pies, 8 pulg; ancho 8 pies, 4 pulg.

Museo Real de Pinturas a la muerte de Fernando VII, 1834. Núm. fol.430.
Pais con Jardin y San Bruno penitente Both, Lº 6.000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower right corner

Wood nameplate. Frame, front, lower bar

SIT. Expo. Velázquez, Rubens y Claudio de Lorena / Obra 55.
Scrap of paper. Frame, back

M.N.PRADO / 02064
On metallic tablet. Stretcher

Scrap of paper. Stretcher

San Bruno en un jardín nº1
Inscribed. Frame, back

Un ojo dibujado
Inscribed. Stretcher

R.M. [Sello del Real Museo]
Printmaking. Back, central area

Nº.126.Mton. / Sn. Bruno en un / Jardín
Handwritten label. Back, Upper area

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Rubens, Brueghel, Lorena. El paisaje nórdico en el Prado
03.12.2013 - 30.03.2014

Rome: Nature and the Ideal. Landscapes 1600-1650
05.07.2011 - 25.09.2011

Nature et idéal. Le paysage à Rome 1600-1650 - Landscape
08.03.2011 - 06.06.2011

Dutch Painters at the Prado
03.12.2009 - 11.04.2010

El palacio del Rey Planeta. Felipe IV y el Buen Retiro
06.07.2005 - 30.10.2005

Velázquez, Rubens, Claudio de Lorena y la pintura en la corte de Felipe IV
07.10.1999 - 23.01.2000

Update date: 24-11-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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