6. Sister Immaculata, 1983
St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Ireland
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
- Eric Ebbinge
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
Zeichnungen aus Klöstern
(Drawings from the Monasteries)
The Albertina poster features from the Museum's collection the Roseman drawing Brother Thijs in the Library, 1982, chalks on paper, St. Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands.
At the entrance to the Albertina,
the column displaying the posters announcing
the museum's exhibitions:
Raphael in der Albertina and
Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern,
Drawings from the Monasteries
Dr. Koschatzky purchased two drawings that Roseman had made the previous month in Belgian Trappist monasteries: Brother Theodore, a portrait of a white-bearded monk from Westmalle Abbey, in the province of Antwerp; and A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir, St. Sixtus Abbey, Flanders. (See website page "The Monastic Life" - Page 3.)
- Dr. Walter Koschatzky, Director
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
"You have delivered to me two drawings by Stanley Roseman, which I have acquired for the Albertina.
I thank you and want to express my conviction that the artist is an outstanding draughtsman and painter
to whom much recognition and success are due."
The Albertina exhibition poster Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Köstern features the beautiful drawing from the Museum's collection Brother Thijs in the Library, 1982, St Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands, (fig. 4).
Drawing - the Foundation of the Visual Arts
Roseman has devoted much of his professional life to drawing, considered the foundation of the visual arts. Giorgio Vasari, the sixteenth-century Florentine architect, painter, and author, states in the preface to his famous series of biographies Lives of the Artists that drawing (disegno) is ''the parent of our three arts, Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting, having its origin in the intellect.''
5. Brother Stephen,
Portrait of a Trappist Monk in Prayer,
1983, Bolton Abbey, Ireland
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
8. Father Xavier, 1978
Pannonhalma Abbey, Hungary
Chalks on paper, 48 x 33 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
de Belgique - Art Moderne, Brussels
- NRC Handelsblad, Rotterdam-Amsterdam
''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.''
7. Stanley Roseman and Father Xavier Szunyogh in the Benedictine monk's room at the Archabbey of Pannonhalma, Hungary, 1978.
The Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique - Art Moderne, Brussels, conserves the portrait Father Xavier, rendered with strong chiaroscuro modeling of lights and shading. Brilliant highlights illuminate the elderly monk's lean visage and white hair and accentuate the collar on the distinctive Hungarian Benedictine habit. The artist's vigorous modeling with the chalks brings a liveliness to the octogenarian's presence in the portrait, which poignantly reveals a sense of the man's younger, hardier years.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium acquired in 1986 the portrait of Father Xavier and a drawing of a young hermit monk Brother Paulo, whom Roseman drew at the Monastery and Hermitage of Camaldoli, in Tuscany. (The drawing of Brother Paulo in choir is presented on the page "Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists, and Carthusians.")
Although drawings have traditionally served as studies or drafts in preparation for compositions to be realized in another medium, drawings can be works complete unto themselves. The artist's signature on a drawing, as well as the date or an inscription as to the identity of the sitter or place, confirm the artist's intention in creating an autonomous work. Complementary to his paintings, sculptures, and engravings, Roseman's drawings, which encompass a range of subjects in a variety of drawing materials, are autonomous works of art.
At the opening of the Albertina exhibitions on the evening of September 6, 1983, Dr. Koschatzky gave a formal address welcoming the President of Austria, the Burgomaster of Vienna, and guests, including the members of the 25th International Congress of Art Historians having convened in Vienna. The Director of the Albertina warmly introduced the work of Stanley Roseman and praised him as "a master draughtsman.''
Glencairn, in County Waterford, was the first convent in which the artist drew in the early months of his work in 1978. Abbess Mary Imelda had written a warm letter of invitation saying, ''you will be very welcome.'' Due to the extraordinary circumstances regarding the artist's work on the monastic life, Roseman was given the unique privilege of being taken inside the cloister to draw the Trappist nuns.
The leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad published an enthusiastic reportage on Roseman's work on the monastic life and states:
''This is work that reaches impressive heights,
especially in the portraits of these men and women.''
The portrait of Sister Immaculata and a drawing of a young monk from the French Benedictine Abbey of Fleury, also exhibited at the Albertina, were acquired in 1986 by the Teyler Museum, in North Holland. Founded in the eighteenth century, the Teyler Museum, the oldest existing museum in the Netherlands, has a renowned collection of master drawings from the Italian Renaissance, including numerous sheets by Michelangelo and Raphael, and from the seventeenth-century Dutch school, notably drawings by Rembrandt.
''The quality of the drawings of which you sent us slides is such that they would form a most welcome addition to the arts collection of the museum.
''Together with our Keeper of Prints and Drawings I made a choice from the slides you sent me. We both felt that the drawings entitled Dom Philippe, Abbaye de Fleury, and Sister Immaculata, Glencairn, Ireland, would enrich the existing collection of drawings in the most significant way, representing as they do, two different types of portraits and of sitters, thus ensuring that different aspects of Mr. Roseman's art can be enjoyed by the visitors to the museum. Moreover, we felt that the 'Rembrandtesque' (if one may call them so) qualities of the portrait of Sister Immaculata in particular would take on an added dimension in the context of the Dutch drawings in the Teyler Collection.''
The Director of the Teyler Museum, Eric Ebbinge, writes in letter on behalf of himself and his Keeper of Prints and Drawings, Carel van Tuyll, to Ronald Davis, who introduced his colleague's work to the museum:
11. Brother Jos, 1981
St. Sixtus Abbey, Belgium
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen
- François Bergot
Chief Curator of the Museums of France
Director, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen
"Father Xavier's room was filled with books, the kind of room that I appreciate being in. Father Xavier said he understood English as a written language but had had little practice in speaking English, so we spoke together in part through verbal communication and in part through the written word - that is, by jotting down on a notepad some of what we wanted to say to each other. . . .
"Although Father Xavier was frail in health, he greeted me warmly when I knocked on his door to visit him. He said he was always happy to see me, for which I was sincerely grateful as being with him was an enriching experience. Father Xavier was a kind, gentle man whose company I very much enjoyed and who gave me the wonderful opportunity to draw him.''
- Bibliothèque National de France
In a biographical essay on the artist, the Bibliothèque National de France writes:
The Albertina exhibition Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Köstern included the drawing entitled Brother Stephen, Portrait of a Trappist Monk in Prayer, (fig. 5). Roseman drew Brother Stephen in choir at Bolton Abbey, County Kildare, during the artist's return to monasteries in Ireland in the winter of 1983.
The Graphische Sammlung ALBERTINA, Vienna, presented in 1983 the first one-man show of drawings by an American artist with the exhibition Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern (Drawings from the Monasteries).
Roseman, then 38 years old, was further honored by the Albertina opening the exhibition of his drawings concurrently with the opening on September 6th of the exhibition of the Museum's Raphael drawings on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master's birth. The exhibition of Roseman drawings at the Albertina, housing a world-renowned collection of master drawings, brought great prestige to the artist and his work.
From the sixth to the twelfth century, monasteries throughout Europe were major producers of books on religious and secular subjects. Monastic scribes preserved classical literature by copying ancient texts written on fragile papyrus to more permanent sheets of vellum. Scholarship and literary work became an important part of Benedictine monasticism from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance; the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the Congregations of Saint Vanne and Saint Maur in particular; and continues to the present day.
Having a love of books, Roseman often sought the monastery library in which to draw as well as for reading and study. He knew well the library at St. Adelbert Abbey from his first sojourn at the monastery in 1978 when he met Brother Thijs, the librarian, who kindly assisted the artist in his early research and studies on monasticism.
4. Brother Thijs in the Library, 1982
St Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Graphische Sammlung Albertina,
"Stanley Roseman lived in monasteries of monks and nuns of the four contemplative orders
throughout Europe and created an extensive oeuvre of chalk drawings
profoundly expressive of the individual and the interior life.''
Sister Immaculata is a further example of Roseman's masterly technique with the medium of chalk for portraiture and his ability to express the individual identity of the sitter. With a painterly use of the chalks, the artist creates a beautiful harmony of translucent skin tones and warm shading in rendering the elderly woman's facial features, with deep set eyes, and peaceful countenance.
The Albertina exhibition also included a fine portrait drawing of the Mother Abbess, acquired in 1996 by the British Museum, London, and reproduced on the website page "The Monastic Life" - Page 2.
Portraiture holds an important place in Roseman's oeuvre. Aftonbladet, Stockholm, the leading Swedish daily, published in its Sunday magazine in 1979 a cover story on the artist and commends Roseman for creating portraits "artistically on a high level as well as accurately expressive of the human dimension.''
At the tenth-century Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma, in Hungary, in 1978, Roseman drew the elderly, ascetic scholar Father Xavier Szunyogh, whose impressive portrait was included in the Albertina exhibition and is presented below, (fig. 8). Father Xavier had initiated the liturgical movement in Hungary in the 1920's. The erudite Benedictine monk translated the Gospels and the Roman Missal into Hungarian as well as other religious and secular literature, including the novels of Charles Dickens. Father Xavier befriended Roseman and Davis, who occupied the room next to his in the cloister. The artist recounts in his journal:
Dr. Henri Pauwels, Chief Curator of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, and Mrs. Phil Mertens, Curator of Modern Art, cordially write to Ronald Davis to acknowledge receipt of:
On the artist's drawing board, next to his box of chalks, is the portrait Father Xavier, (fig. 8, below), in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
The Curators thoughtfully add in their gracious letter:
"We are very pleased that they will have the opportunity to find their place
in the collection of drawings of the Modern Art Department.''
"the beautiful drawings by Stanley Roseman, 'Father Xavier' and 'The Young Hermit Paulo in Choir.'
- Dr. Henri Pauwels, Chief Curator
- Mrs. Phil Mertens, Curator of Modern Art
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels
When Roseman embarked on his career in New York City in the early 1970's, the mainstream art movements negated the presence of the human figure and Nature, and large scale paintings of non-objective imagery dominated the art scene. Roseman, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the equally respected Pratt Institute, both in New York City, was creating much of his work in the intimate medium of drawing, with a concentration on drawing the human figure.
9. Mikhail Baryshnikov, 1975
American Ballet Theatre
Pencil on paper, 35 x 27 cm
The Drawing Medium of Chalk
© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and website content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
At the conclusion of their cordial meeting, the eminent Director of the Albertina thoughtfully wrote Davis a letter acknowledging the acquisition of the drawings and praising the artist for his work:
10. Brother Caesarius at Breakfast
1982, Östanbäcks Kloster, Sweden
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Instituut der Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden
The Albertina exhibition included the superb portrait of the Irish Trappist nun Sister Immaculata, whom Roseman drew in meditation and prayer at St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, in 1983, (fig. 6).
A prolific and versatile draughtsman, Roseman recounts: "I was absorbed with the human figure, and in addition to drawing portraits and nudes, for example, I found inspiration in the world of the performing arts where I drew in theatres, opera houses, and at the circus.''
The Albertina acquired from that period of the artist's work the beautiful drawing Mikhail Baryshnikov, (fig. 9). With the silvery tones of a graphite pencil, Roseman drew Baryshnikov in performance as Duke Albrecht in American Ballet Theatre's production of Giselle, in 1975.
The drawing is atypical of the frontal position in which dancers are usually depicted in art. Baryshnikov is seen moving upstage in a curvilinear composition focusing on the turn of the dancer's head and outstretched arms beneath voluminous sleeves. With a minimum of line, Roseman creates a splendid abstraction of the male dancer in flight.
The drawing was featured in the American bicentennial exhibition Stanley Roseman - The Performing Arts in America. Produced by Ronald Davis, the exhibition comprised drawings created at dress rehearsals and performances by leading opera, theatre, and dance companies and the artist's series of paintings, drawings, and engravings of the celebrated clowns of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The 100 drawings in pencil; pen and ink; and brush, ink, and wash fostered in the visiting public a great interest in the art of drawing.
The Performing Arts in America exhibition brought Roseman's work as a draughtsman to the attention of the Albertina through the commendations of Dr. Fritz Cocron, Director of the Austrian Cultural Institute, in New York, and his associate Dr. Peter Marboe, who was to take on the Institute's directorship a few years later.
Roseman's dedication to drawing is consistent with the importance that Vasari placed on the art of drawing. The celebrated Florentine biographer of Lives of the Artists prized drawings for their inherent value and was the first great collector of drawings. In the age of Renaissance humanism, portraiture and the human figure were paramount in visual imagery, and in the modern age Roseman's work reflects that primacy.
The Albertina was the first museum to acquire Roseman's drawings from the monasteries. The Director of the Albertina, Dr. Walter Koschatzky, had written in September 1978 a warm letter of invitation to the artist's colleague Ronald Davis: "I am looking forward to meeting you here in Vienna in November and to seeing drawings by your friend Stanley Roseman." The artist was six months into his work on the monastic life when Davis met Dr. Koschatzky in early November 1978 at the Albertina to show him a selection of Roseman's recent drawings as well as transparencies of his paintings and drawings on various subjects and themes.
"The artist's gray, brown, dark and light tones vary as subtly and surely
as the monks who live out their discipline of prayer and work and meals in common.''
Brother Jos was acquired in 1985 by the Chief Curator of the Museums of France, François Bergot, for the Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen, of which he was the Director. The drawing entered the renowned Rouen Museum with a drawing, also from the Albertina exhibition, that depicts a bespectacled, middle-aged, English Benedictine monk Father Gregory at tea at St. Augustine's Abbey in 1980. In a cordial letter to Ronald Davis, who introduced his colleague's work to the Museum, the Chief Curator of the Museums of France acknowledges the acquisition of:
In a feature story on Roseman published by The Boston Globe in 1979 and entitled "Monks' life through art,'' the respected daily states: "The drawings, for the most part done in combinations of black, white, and sepia chalk on beige or gray paper, are impressive. Roseman has captured the personalities of many individual monks while often managing to depict their lifestyles as well.''
The Performing Arts in America exhibition opened on the eve of the American bicentennial celebrations in December 1975 at the respected Curtis Institute of Music in the historic city of Philadelphia and toured the United States through 1976. The exhibition concluded its national tour in the winter-spring 1977 at New York City's preeminent Library and Museum for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, where a large banner announcing the Roseman exhibition was displayed in Lincoln Center Plaza. (See "Biography,'' Pages 2, 3, and 4.)
"two very beautiful drawings by Stanley Roseman: 'Father Gregory at Tea' and 'Brother Jos.' "
"Stanley Roseman's drawings show the many facets of his great talents as a draughtsman.''
- Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The biographical essay by the Bibliothèque National de France praises the artist's draughtsmanship:
The captivating portrait of Brother Jos, the gardener, rendered with an immediacy of expression, has a Rubenesque quality in Roseman's painterly use of the chalks on ochre paper, giving the composition a warm tonality. Red chalk brings vibrancy to the monk's fair complexion, and passages of black chalk finely texture his wispy beard. White chalk adds luminous highlights on the face of the young, Flemish monk who wears a brown hat and turns to look directly out at the viewer.
The superior of Östanbäcks Kloster, Father Bengt Högberg, who with Brother Caesarius was one of the four founding members of the community in 1970, writes in his cordial letter of invitation: "Östanbäck is a Benedictine Monastery within the Church of Sweden and its way of life is based on the Rule of St. Benedict.'' In the summer of 1982, Roseman and Davis were graciously received at the monastery, a red-painted wooden dwelling, formerly a schoolhouse, situated among a grove of birches in the Swedish countryside. From the artist's journal:
Roseman's work on the monastic life earned him a superlative review in The Times, London:
The Trappist Abbey of St. Sixtus, in Flanders, was the first monastery on the Continent where Roseman drew in 1978. The Albertina's drawing A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir (referred to above) is from that sojourn at the monastery. Returning to St. Sixtus over the years, the artist resumed drawing the monks at prayer, work, and study, as well as at meals in the refectory. Roseman's portrait drawings of members of the community include Brother Jos, 1981, also exhibited at the Albertina and presented here, (fig. 11).
Roseman's ecumenical work, brought to realization in the enlightenment of Vatican II, includes drawings from Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran monastic communities, a selection of which the Albertina presented in its exhibition. From the Lutheran Benedictine monastery Östanbäcks Kloster, Sweden, were exhibited Brother Caesarius in Choir, 1982, acquired by the Teyler Museum, and Brother Caesarius at Breakfast, 1982, (fig. 10).
"After drawing at Matins and Lauds, which began at 4:30 a.m., I accompanied the monks to the refectory, where I drew them at breakfast. Hot porridge or a mixture of whole grain cereal and raisins with buttermilk were available as well as fresh bread, butter, jam, and coffee. When the monks finished their breakfast and were washing their dishes in the kitchen, I took my breakfast, washed and put away my dishes, and returned to choir to draw at the Office of Terce."
In the present work Brother Caesarius at Breakfast warm earth tones of bistre chalks predominate with strong accents of black chalk complemented by white heightening on the monk's face and cranium. Here the artist combines linear descriptions with the blending of the chalks to portray the monk seated on a bench at the end of a table in the refectory.
A cool, morning light enters the room from behind the monk and descends over his head and hood and down the sleeve of his tunic. The artist effectively rendered the contained movement of the monk bending forward and lifting a spoon in his right hand while his left hand rests by the side of his bowl. Brother Caesarius at Breakfast, as with the drawings presented in the Albertina exhibition Zeichnungen aus Klöstern, attests to Roseman's consummate draughtsmanship.
The Institute of Art History, Leiden University, acquired in 1985 by vote of the young art historians a suite of Roseman's drawings, which includes Brother Caesarius at Breakfast. Roseman's drawings are the first by an American artist to enter the Leiden Print Room, containing an outstanding collection of master drawings.
Returning to St. Adelbert Abbey in 1982 and taking up his paper and chalks, Roseman drew Brother Thijs in the Library, rendered with a harmonious interplay of line and tone. In the gray light of the abbey library, the artist drew the Benedictine monk, seen in profile and absorbed in his reading. Brother Thijs' ivory complexion is complemented by his dark hair and long beard, giving the monk an appearance consistent with his erudition as a Biblical scholar.
The warm reception that Davis received from Dr. Koschatzky at the Albertina in November 1978 was the beginning of an amiable relationship. The eminent Director's purchase for the Museum of two drawings from Roseman's work on the monastic life was followed by additional acquisitions of the artist's drawings from the monasteries, as well as the drawing of Mikhail Baryshnikov presented above, and a gift from the artist of a portrait drawing of Davis, who worked closely with Dr. Koschatzky in the preparation of the Albertina's exhibition Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Köstern. (For biographical information on Davis see "Contact.")
The present work from the Albertina's collection exemplifies Roseman's virtuosity in the use of the medium of chalk for portraiture. Bold contours and sculptural modeling of the masculine, facial features with luminous white highlights and warm shading are in dramatic contrast to the young man's black mustache and beard. In this magnificent portrait of a Trappist monk in prayer, Roseman has created a drawing of great spiritual intensity.
1. David Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises, (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd, 1962), pp. 35-62.
2. Giorgio Vasari , Vasari on Technique, (New York: Dover Publications, Inc.), p. 205.
4. Stanley Roseman, Stanley Roseman and the Dance - Drawings from the Paris Opéra, (Paris: Ronald Davis, 1996), p. 9.
3. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris (text in French and English), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996, p. 10.
5. Dr. Janno van Tatenhove, Keeper of Drawings of the Leiden University Print Room, writes in a cordial letter, dated 28 October 1985,
to Roseman that "until now we had no American drawings at all."