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The Extasis of Jean Birelle
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

Florencia, 1576 - Madrid, 1638

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The Extasis of Jean Birelle

1626 - 1632. 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 Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.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.

Born in Limoges, Birelle, who was prior of the Grande Chartreuse from 1346 until his death in 1361, refused Innocence VI’s offer to appoint him Cardinal. In keeping with his reputation as a contemplative clergyman, Carducho shows him levitating inside the charterhouse, very close to an altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin and Child. The background includes an episode from his religious activity, when he dissuaded a novice from abandoning monastic life (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. en: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190).

Technical data

Inventory number
P003806
Author
Carducho, Vicente
Title
The Extasis of Jean Birelle
Date
1626 - 1632
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 338 cm.; Width: 298.5 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.

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. 137.

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

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 [229 f.419].

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. 54.
54. San Bruno en oración, de pie / Rdo / Alto 3,43; ancho 3,1. / Último de la colección de medios puntos de Carduchos. / Id.Id.Id. / Nº 17. / C.B.

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 54.
54. Extasis de un Santo cartujo. / Firmado, Vin. Carduchi. / En el centro de su celda el santo fraile, en éxtasis, de pié, con los brazos abiertos y la mirada fija en el cielo, de donde caen sobre él varios rayos de luz; á los pies del Santo el capelo de cardenal; enfrente de él un altar en cuyo retablo se ve un cuadro que representa la Santísima Virgen con el niño. A la derecha y por la puerta de la celda se ve al mismo Santo fraile cogiendo del brazo á un hombre en actitud de huir espantado. El cuadro del retablo es un trasunto de las Vírgenes de la escuela florentina, especialmente de las de Andrés del Sarto. / En 1626 se obligó a Carducho, por escritura pública, á pintar para la Cartuja del Paular estos cincuenta y cuatro cuadros, que representarian escenas de la vida de San Bruno y...

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

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(Deposit)

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Dress / Religious o Clothing/Religious

Book

Chair / Armchair

Painting

Update date: 03-10-2018 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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