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Saint Bruno’s Conversion before the Body of Diocrès
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

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

Carducho, Vicente See author's file

Saint Bruno’s Conversion before the Body of Diocrès

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 Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.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

Raymond Diocrès, a notable professor at the University of Paris, was already considered saintly when he died in 1082. At his funeral, he himself spoke to the attendees three times to inform them that God had accused, judged and finally condemned him for his sins. This first work from the series shows the deceased’s horror as well as the surprised visage of Bruno of Cologne (1035-1101), who was also a Paris University professor at that time. And here, it is clear that Vicente Carducho drew on the series that Juan Sánchez Cotán had painted for the charterhouse in Granada between 1615 and 1617. Both artists conceived this scene in a similar manner, with the deceased speaking from his position at the center of a majestic architectural setting. Some details are the same in both works, such as the clergyman wearing glasses (who appears on opposite sides of the two painting), or the mourning cross on a velvet-covered base (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. and Carlos Varona, M. C. de, in: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190 y 209).

Technical data

Inventory number
Carducho, Vicente
Saint Bruno’s Conversion before the Body of Diocrès
1626 - 1632
Height: 337.5 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. nº1.

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. 127-128.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (II). Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991, pp. nº1.

Beutler, Werner, Vicente Carducho. El Gran Ciclo Cartujano de el Paular, Verlag Locher, Koln, 1998, pp. 126.

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 [217 f.380].

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 [352-353,412 f.98].

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 1.
1. La conversion de S. Bruno. / Muerto, en el año de 1084, en Paris, Raimundo Diocres, ó Plegil segun algunos, varon grande tenido en mucha estimacion por sus virtudes y letras y por el buen ejemplo que habia dado con su vida, fue depositado su cadáver en la iglesia con gran pompa. Empezóse á entonar por el descanso de su alma el oficio de difuntos y al llegar al versículo: Responde mihi: cuantas habeo iniquitates, et peccata, como si el difunto oyera y fuera preguntado se sentó de repente en el féretro, y dijo: En el juicio de dios estoy acusado. Esparcida en la ciudad la nueva de este...

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 1.
1. San Bruno. / en el acto de hacerse las honras aun canonigo q.e habia muerto en opinion de santo se lebanta de este esferico y dice q.e esta condenado san Bruno q.e á sistia á este acto esta a la derecha del cuadro se sorprende de un suceso tan estraordinario forma la resolucion de fundar un monasterio de cartujos. / Figuras de tamaño regular a cuerpo entero. // Rdo. Alto 3,43; ancho, 3,01. // Este cuadro y los q.e siguen hasta el numero [54] forman la coleccion llamada comunmente los medios puntos de Carducho. Todos ellos vinieron de la cartuja del Paular esta restaurada toda la colección hace tres o cuatro años; están forrados y tienen bastidores nuevos. Este cuadro tiene marco pintado al temple de amarillo con filetes dorados./ Lo restauró el Sr. Bernáldez/ nº 255/ G.P.

Inscriptions +

Signed. Front, lower right corner

Location +

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

Displayed objects +

Pince nez: Anteojos binoculares autoportantes ajustables mediante un puente de pinza.

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

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