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The Martyrdom of the Priors of the English Charterhouses of London, Nottingham and Axholme
Carducho, Vicente
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Carducho, Vicente

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

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The Martyrdom of the Priors of the English Charterhouses of London, Nottingham and Axholme

1626 - 1632. Oil on canvas Not on display

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 Juan de Baeza furnished Carducho with the episodes to be included in the series, many of which were unpublished or barely known and previously unrepresented in Spain.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

In the History of the Carthusians series from the monastery of El Paular, the religious upheaval caused by Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church and the Spanish Monarchy is conveyed by depictions of the martyrdom and deaths of various of the most outstanding English Carthusians. Here, the priors of the charterhouses of London, Nottingham and Axholm -John Houghton, Robert Lawrence and Agustine Webster, respectively- appear imprisoned at the Tower of London, where they were subsequently executed (Text drawn from Ruiz, L. en: La recuperación de El Paular, 2013, pp. 185-190).

Technical data

Inventory number
P005239
Author
Carducho, Vicente
Title
The Martyrdom of the Priors of the English Charterhouses of London, Nottingham and Axholme
Date
1626 - 1632
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. 15.

Cuartero y Huerta, Baltasar, Relacion Descriptiva de los Cincuenta y Seis Cuadros Pintado..., Maestre, Madrid, 1951.

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. 139.

Espinós, A.; Orihuela, M. y Royo Villanova, M. [et al.], El ''Prado disperso''. Cuadros depositados en La Coruña. Museo de Bellas Artes, Boletín del Museo del Prado, VIII, 1987, pp. 53.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, II. Museo de la Trinidad, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1991, pp. nº41.

Beutler, Werner, Vicente Carducho : Der Grosse Kartauserzyklus in el Paular, Institut Fur Anglistik Und Amerikan, Salzburgo, 1997, pp. 238.

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 [230 f.425].

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 [428 f.128].

Other inventories +

Inv. Museo de la Trinidad, Pintura. Núm. 41.
41. / Martirio de sn Bruno el santo y otros dos religiosos estan atados con cadenas de hierro a unas colunas, a la izquierda del espectador por el arco de una galeria en segundo termino se ve en el campo el suplicio de otros monjes qe presencian a caballo dos o tres capitanes rodeados de gente de armas y banderas figuras de tamaño natural y cuerpo entero / Firmado Vicente Carducho. // Rdo alto 3,43; ancho 3,01. / Como los anteriores sin moldura y sin colgar en la sala de restauracion. / Nº 61 C.B.

Catálogo Museo de la Trinidad, 1865. Núm. 41.
41. Martirio de tres frailes cartujos. / Firmado, Vin. Carduchi P.R.F. / Tres frailes cartujos atados con cadenas á las columnas de un pórtico. A la izquierda, por una puerta, se ve en ultimo término á dos verdugos en el momento de descuartizar en presencia de varios soldados á los tres frailes indicados.

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Location +

(Deposit)

Displayed objects +

Weapons / Arms

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

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