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The Death of Saint Bruno
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

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

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The Death of Saint Bruno

1626 - 1628. Oil on canvas

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 Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.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

Saint Bruno lies on the floor surrounded by a group of Carthusians who comfort him in his final moments of life. The chiaroscuro lighting imbues the composition with a powerful dramatic sense that links it to Caravaggio’s tenebrism, which, paradoxically, Carducho openly criticizes in his important theoretical texts on the art of painting (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. en: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190).

Technical data

Inventory number
P005481
Author
Carducho, Vicente
Title
The Death of Saint Bruno
Date
1626 - 1628
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 337 cm.; Width: 298 cm.
Series
Historia de la Orden de los Cartujos. Cartuja de El Paular, Rascafría, Madrid
Provenance
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. 7.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E., Pintura italiana del S. XVII en España, Universidad Fundación Valdecilla, Madrid, 1965.

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. 133.

Foucart, Jacques, Nouvelles Acquisitions du Departement des Peintures (1980-82, Editions Musees Nationaux, París, 1983.

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. 182.

Orihuela, Mercedes y Cenalmor, Elena, El ''Prado disperso''. Obras depositadas en Córdoba y Sevilla. I. Córdoba. Instituto Séneca, Boletín del Museo del Prado, 20, 2002, pp. 168.

Gayo, Mª Dolores; Jover de Celis, Maite, Evolución de las preparaciones en la pintura sobre lienzo de los siglos XVII y XVIII en España., Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXVIII, 2010, pp. 39-59.

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.405].

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.

Other inventories +

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 17.
17. San Bruno. / La muerte del santo; está rodeado de varios religiosos de su orden figuras de cuerpo entero y tamaño natural. / Firmado Vicente Carducho. / Rdo. / Alto 3,43; ancho 3,01 / id.id. / nº 49 / c.b.

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 17.
17. Muerte de S. Bruno. / Firmado, V.C.P.R.F. / Sentado sobre la tierra, sostenido por un cartujo, con la vista fija en un Crucifijo que otro monje le presenta y rodeado de sus discípulos, espira el patriarca S. Bruno en la cueva que le servia de celda en la Cartuja de Calabria. / Grande efecto de claro oscuro; el cuadro, sin embargo, es de los más débiles.

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

(Deposit)

Displayed objects +

Book

Candle: .15.

Crucifix: .151.

Update date: 06-05-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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