- Museum number
St Bruno praying in La Torre, Calabria; the saint kneels before a crucifix and skull, a cave behind, in the background are buildings, 1626-32
Pen and black ink, black chalk and brown wash, heightened with white; squared for transfer
- Production date
Height: 326 millimetres
Width: 285 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Modified text from McDonald 2013
On 29 August 1626 Carducho signed a contract for fifty-six paintings for the Carthusian monastery of El Paular, near Segovia. Twenty-seven of the scenes were to show episodes from the life of St Bruno, the founder of the Order, and the rest were to depict chronologically events from its history and the lives of illustrious Carthusians. The cycle was the most important in Carducho’s career and one of the largest in all of Europe during the seventeenth century. El Paular was suppressed in 1836 and the paintings were dispersed across Spain on deposit from the Museo del Prado. After their restauration in 2011 they were returned to El Paular. This drawing is a study for the painting that was in Córdoba cathedral.
For each painting Carducho made preliminary drawings and studies of individual figures and other details and oil sketches. The contract for the commission specified that Carducho was to present the patron with drawings for approval and that all the paintings were by Carducho and the drawings were signed. The preparatory drawings should be dated to the early years of the commission. This study of Saint Bruno is finished and squared for transfer. It depicts the saint outdoors, praying before a cross and a skull in front on an altar. At left is the church that he founded, Our Lady della Torre in Calabria. The arched top of the drawing follows the form of the painting.
A number of the preparatory drawings for the commission have inscriptions in Carducho’s hand describing the scenes running along the bottom. The inscriptions explained the subject for the patron and were an important interpretive element given that the cycle was so extensive. On this sheet the inscription has been trimmed rendering it almost illegible. However what can be deciphered reads '… dedicado nuestro padre San Bruno tres años …' referring to the time he spent in Calabria. At the lower left of the drawing Carducho’s name has been reinforced in a darker pen.
The principal pictorial source for Carducho’s series was Lanfranco’s cycle from around 1620 for the Charterhouse of San Martino in Naples that was engraved by Theodor Krüger before 1624 (Hollstein [German] VI no.27). Except for superficial similarities, Krüger’s print of St Bruno praying is very different to Carducho’s version. Other prints in the series provided a more direct source. Juan Sánchez Cotán’s painting of the subject for the Cartuja of Granada (1615-18) now in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Granada is much closer to Carducho’s version. The basic compositions are the same where both St Bruno is represented as a monumental figure wearing voluminous robes.
The inventory of Carducho’s belongings made after his death refers to a book (album) of seventy-seven drawings of the history of St Bruno for the Paular cycle (M.L. Caturla, 'Documentos en torno a Vicencio Carducho', Arte Español. Revista de la sociedad española de amigos del arte, XXVI, 1968-69, pp.183. The album was broken up in the nineteenth century (Angulo Íñiguez and Pérez Sánchez 1977, II nos.146–67). Another study for the commission in the British Museum depicting Christ on the cross (see 1920,1116.21) is preparatory for the detail of Christ appearing to Padre Juan Fort (the miracle of the cross) in the upper right corner of the painting of the Virgin appearing to Juan Fort. Christ’s apparition to Juan Fort is delicately suggested by the double outline of his face. It is one of his most striking detail studies and demonstrates the care Carducho took in preparing paintings for the cycle.
A.L. Mayer, 'Die Handzeichnungen spanischer Meister. 150 Skizzen und Entwürfen vom 16. bis 19. Jahrhundert', 2 vols, Leipzig 1915 (Spanish edn Dibujos originales de maestros Españoles: 150 apuntes y estudios de artistas del siglo XVI hasta el siglo XIX, 2 vols, Leipzig and New York 1920), plt.73; E. du Gue Trapier, 'Notes on Spanish Drawings', Notes Hispanic, vol. 1, 1941, p.33; M.C. Volk, 'Vicencio Carducho and seventeenth century Castilian Painting', New York, 1977, no.47; D. Angulo Íñiguez & A.E. Pérez Sánchez, 'A corpus of Spanish drawings. Volume II: Madrid 1600-1650', 1977, cat.no.147; W. Beutler, 'Vicente Carducho: der grosse kartäuserzyklus in El Paular', Salzburg, 1997, pp. 172–3; M. P. McDonald, 'Renaissance to Goya: Prints and drawings from Spain', exh.cat., British Museum, London 2012, pp.87-88; M. P. McDonald, 'El trazo español en el British Museum: Dibujos del Renacimiento a Goya', exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid 2013, cat.no.8.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1976 BM, `Spanish Drawings`, (no cat)
2012/13 Sept-Jan, London, British Museum, ‘Renaissance to Goya: Prints and Drawings from Spain’
2013 March-June, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, ‘El trazo español en el British Museum …’
2013, Aug-Nov, Sydney, AGNSW, 'Renaissance to Goya'
2013-4, Dec-Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico Museum of Modern Art, 'Renaissance to Goya'
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number