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Saint Bruno Encounters the Count of Sicily and Calabria
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

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

Carducho, Vicente See author's file

Saint Bruno Encounters the Count of Sicily and Calabria

1626 - 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 Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.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.

Roger I, Count of Sicily and Calabria met Saint Bruno on a hunting trip. The Carthusian’s spirituality and way of life greatly impressed the count, who became a protector of the Carthusian order’s founder. Here, the colorful and dynamic figure of the count contrasts with Saint Bruno’s straightforward appearance. This painting also presents another of the archetypal aspects of the Carthusian life: silence. Indeed, Count Roger I was hunting with his dogs near the place where Saint Bruno had retired with his disciples. Suddenly the dogs stopped and became silent, making movements that invited the hunters to be quiet and motionless behind them. In the saint’s encounter with the count, Saint Bruno was the only one to speak, and he did so to state that neither he nor his congregation needed anything. His companions remained silent. As we know, the Carthusian rules only allow communication at specific moments during the week. The rest of the time is spent in silence, and imperative communication needs (for example by lay brothers in charge of the monastery’s agriculture and commercial transactions) are limited to as few words and gestures as possible. Specifically, the Carthusian Customs state: our main interest and calling is a complete dedication to silence and to the solitude of a cell (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. en: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190).

Technical data

Inventory number
Carducho, Vicente
Saint Bruno Encounters the Count of Sicily and Calabria
1626 - 1632
Height: 337 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. 8.

Angulo Íñiguez, D.; Pérez Sánchez, A. E., Historia de la pintura española: escuela madrileña del primer tercio del siglo XVII, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1969, pp. 132-133.

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. 174.

Orihuela, M.; Cenalmor, E., El Prado Disperso. Obras depositadas en Zamora y Burgos, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXVI, 2008, pp. 91-110.

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 [224 f.402].

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, Á.; Rodríguez Rebollo, A., Vicente Carducho. Dibujos Catálogo razonado, Biblioteca Nacional de España - Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica, Madrid, 2015, pp. 337-440 [368-369 f.104].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 19.
19. S. Bruno y el duque Rogerio de Nápoles. / Muerto el Papa Urbano II se retiró S. Bruno á una cueva de la Calabria donde fué descubierto en una cacería por el duque Rogerio, soberano de aquel Estado. Conversando con el Santo decide el duque fundar un convento en aquel sitio con el nombre de Cartuja de S. Esteban y Bruno. / En el paisaje se ven copiados los frondosos y amenos sitios que rodean el Paular.

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 19.
19. Sn Bruno. / El sentado sobre una piedra á la izquierda del espectador esta ablando con un personaje q. Tiene en la mano derecha una lanza y sobre los hombros un manto encarnado la derecha se ve la comitiva de este y una cabeza de caballo alrededor del personaje hay varios carros de casa, figuras de cuerpo entero y tamaño natural fondo paisaje muy frondoso. / Firmado pr Vicente Carducho. / alto 3,43; ancho, 3,01. / Como los anteriores. / Nº 216 G.P.

Inscriptions +

Signed. Front, lower right corner

Location +

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

Displayed objects +

Weapons / Arms

Update date: 02-10-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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