The ancient province of Castile, in northern Spain, has a long and eventful monastic history whose origins are traditionally dated in the Visigothic period. From the Middle Ages, the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, located in the Tabladillo Valley in the great Castilian plain, and the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, secluded in a valley some twelve kilometers southeast of Burgos, became important centers of monastic life.
Gregorian chant, a reverential musical expression associated with singing the Psalms, developed mainly in the context of monastic life in the early Middle Ages. Silos today is a member of the international Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes, whose motherhouse the Abbey of Solesmes, in France, has been engaged since the second half of the nineteenth century in the study and restoration of Gregorian chant. The monks at Silos, as at Solesmes, present Gregorian chant in a modern religious context of prayer and devotion to God.
"The splendid cloister of Silos, with marvelous capitals and a series of bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Bible, is built on two levels. The lower cloister, begun in the second half of the eleventh century, has fourteen rounded arches in the east and west galleries and sixteen in the north and south galleries. The upper cloister, dating from the late twelfth century, is similar in architecture to the cloister below.
1998 commemorated the 900th anniversary of the Cistercian Order, which is dated from the founding of the Abbey of Cîteaux, in Burgundy, in 1098. Cistercian monasticism today comprises two branches: the Order of Cistercians of the Common Observance and the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known familiarly as the Trappist Order. Trappist monasticism developed from a seventeenth-century reform movement centered at the Abbey of La Trappe, in Normandy.
1. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris - Drawings on the Dance at the Paris Opéra (text in French and English),
(Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 10.
2. The Oxford scholar and Benedictine monk Dom Bernard Green read a draft of Roseman's manuscript and wrote in a gracious letter
to the artist: "You portray the background and the aims of life in monasteries so well, showing such a deep understanding of the monastic life.''
3. Kenneth John Conant, Carolingian and Romanesque Architecture 800-1200, (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, Ltd,
1973), p. 3.
4. The Rule of St. Benedict English translations by Abbot David Parry, O.S.B., Households of God, (London: Darton, Longman &Todd, 1980),
and Abbot Patrick Barry, O.S.B., St. Benedict's Rule, (Ampleforth Abbey Press, 1997).
5. John Davis Hatch, the distinguished American collector of drawings writes to Ronald Davis in acquiring three drawings by Roseman
on the monastic life: ''I very much appreciate Stanley's allowing me to have them - as they are great additions to my drawing collection.''
6. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris, pp. 11, 12.
7. Poem of the Cid, Introduction and Notes by Ian Michael, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984) pp. 2, 7, 8.
8. Francis Ames-Lewis, Drawing in Early Renaissance Italy, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), p. 12.
6. Travels to Sweden and Denmark
3. Historic Regions of Monasticism
in Bavaria and Swabia
Monastic Journey Continued
On the bottom of this page are links to the other pages.
2. Returning to the Netherlands
7. Convents in Piedmont
1. A Painting Studio
at the Abbey of La Trappe
8. Monasteries in Old Castile
The monastic, or contemplative life, is centered on observing the Divine Office and singing the Psalms. Roseman writes of his sojourn at the monastery: "During the wintery months at San Pedro de Cardeña, the Romanesque church was utilized only on Sundays. On other days, for the daily Offices and for Vigils, the monks assembled in the chapel of the monastery. Abbot Marcos invited Ronald and me to attend the Offices with the Community, and I appreciated that opportunity to draw the monks in the intimacy of their chapel.''
Roseman recounts: "Brother Roberto kindly explained to me the etymology of the name 'Cardeña,' which derives from the Spanish 'el cardo,' meaning 'thistle,' and 'eña,' meaning 'place' or 'area' Thus 'Cardeña' is 'a place where thistles grow.' The monastery emblem displays a star-like configuration of three branching thistles and two crossed keys signifying St. Peter. The thistle is a notable, armorial insignia and is, for example, the symbol of Scotland and the symbol of Lorraine. At San Pedro de Cardeña thistles grow in the fields around the monastery, where I made several landscape drawings. I also made a drawing of thistles for a Christmas card that Ronald and I gave to Abbot Marcos and the Community."
(See also "Monastic Orders, Page 3 - "Cistercians and Trappists," which presents Brother Estaban carrying feed to the Livestock, 1979, San Pedro de Cardeña. See "Biography," Page 8 - "Landscapes," with the drawing Birches on a Hillside near the Abbey of San Pedro de Cardeña, 1998.)
Roseman's return to San Pedro de Cardeña in 1998 brought to a close the twentieth year of his work on the monastic life. The artist accompanied the monks to draw them at the daily round of communal prayer and at the Night Office. The artist drew the monks at work, study, and meditation in choir and in their cells. He was invited to accompany the monks into the refectory to draw them taking their meals in silence as is the monastic custom. Roseman's discretion, his pleasant manner, and his benevolent regard endeared him to the Community. During six weeks at the Monastery, Roseman created a series of splendid drawings of the Spanish Trappist monks.
Roseman drew the present work in a single chalk, bistre. Related drawings by the artist using a single chalk to render a monk in prayer are The Young Hermit Paolo in Choir, 1979, Hermitage of Camaldoli, Tuscany, in the collection of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique - Art Moderne, Brussels; and A Carthusian Monk at Vigils, 1982, Chartreuse de la Valsainte, Switzerland, in the Musée Ingres, Montauban. Those drawings of a seated figure in red chalk on ochre paper and of a standing figure in bistre chalk on beige paper, respectively, are complemented by the drawing here.
''The project is a splendid artistic collection, an historic record of a way of life never seen before on such a scale,'' enthuses Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, in its Sunday magazine color feature story in 1980 on Roseman's work in the monasteries. "Each drawing is a gem of the first quality and all of them together offer a unique impression of monastic life.'' The feature story includes the portrait drawing Brother Stanislaw, 1978, Tyniec Abbey, Poland, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro. (See website page "The Monastic Life'' - Page 4 - "Across the Continent to Austria, Hungary, and Poland.'')
Fray Javier singing the Psalms, (fig. 4), is a superb portrait drawing rendered in a combination of chalks on gray paper. With luminous highlights and warm shading, Roseman conveys a spiritual intensity on the face of the young Benedictine monk, seen here in profile, his head uplifted and eyes closed as he sings the Psalms at the Divine Office.
''No one, I believe, in 1,500 years of Christian monachism has catalogued, defined
and described so clearly or so beautifully the business of the monastic life.
No writer, no sculptor, no painter, no architect has refined a distillation so pure,
so accurate, so breathtakingly clear as Roseman has done.''
1980 commemorated the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of St. Benedict of Nursia, whose Rule is the basis of monastic observance in the Western Church. In that fifteenth-centenary year, The Times, London, published a superlative, full-length page review on Stanley Roseman's work on the monastic life:
Brother Luis in Prayer, (fig. 7), is a deeply felt portrait of the octogenarian Trappist monk. Roseman writes: "Observing the monastic precept ora et labora, prayer and work, Brother Luis had worked for many years on the monastery's dairy farm, an important source of income for the Community. Following those years of manual labor on the farm, Brother Luis was appointed doorkeeper. St. Benedict dedicates a chapter of his Rule (Chapter 66) to the doorkeeper and counsels that at the monastery gate should be a wise and kindly man of years who knows how to receive and give messages. The doorkeeper is the intermediary between the monastery and those outside the cloister. Although Brother Luis was in retirement from both demanding jobs and in his eighty-eighth year when I drew him in choir, he was still a vital member of the Community in attending the Divine Office.''
"Abbot Marcos, on behalf of himself and the Community, thoughtfully gave Ronald and me a Christmas present of three cassette recordings of the monks singing Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. The Offices at San Pedro de Cardeña are sung in Spanish, and the cantor Padre Jesús Marrodán composed very beautiful chants for the Psalms.''