''Oh,'' replied he, ''at foot of the Casentino
crosses a stream named Archiano,
which rises in the Apennine above the Hermitage.''
"Monasticism in the Western Church takes two forms: the cenobitic, or communal life, which is practiced by Benedictines, Cistercians of the Common Observance, and Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as Trappists; and the eremitic, or solitary life, practiced by Carthusians. At Camaldoli, both cenobitic and eremitic monasticism are combined in one monastic community.
"A gracious man, Padre Benedetto heartily assured us that we could stay at Camaldoli for as long as we needed for our work. He thoughtfully made arrangements for Ronald and me to move from the guesthouse into the cloister of the Monastery. We lived on the ground level which contained cells for the younger monks and allowed us direct access to the quadrangle of the beautiful, sixteenth-century cloister. The cloister garden, even in its winter slumber, was conducive for meditation. And so, with the warm welcome we received and the sparse but cosy quarters provided us, Ronald and I settled into life at Camaldoli."
In a striking departure from Christian iconography that usually depicts hermits as elderly men, Roseman has depicted a young man in the beautiful red chalk drawing The Young Hermit Paolo in Choir, Hermitage of Camaldoli, 1979, in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique - Art Moderne, Brussels, (fig. 5). Writing about his work at Camaldoli, Roseman further recounts:
"From the dawn of the Renaissance, Camaldoli nurtured the development of humanism. Cosimo de' Medici (1389-1464), Pater Patriae, patriarch of the great House of Medici and humanist, was educated at the school of the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in Florence. Cosimo's older contemporary and friend Ambrogio Traversari (1386-1439), also educated at Santa Maria degli Angeli, was a monk and outstanding classical scholar who was elected Prior General of the Camaldolese Congregation.
"Camaldoli was founded in c.1023-24 by St. Romuald of Ravenna, who established a group of hermit dwellings and a chapel on a gift of land at 1,100 meters in the Tuscan-Romagna range of the Apennines. At an existing refuge lower down the mountain, at about 800 meters, Romuald assigned several monks to provide food and lodging for travelers and pilgrims crossing the mountain pass. The refuge became a monastery maintaining a guesthouse. The monastery and hermitage formed a single monastic community. By the twelfth century, Camaldoli was the head of a cenobitical-eremitical congregation, with more than twenty monasteries and hermitages, in the Order of St. Benedict, also known as the Benedictine Order.
The traditional Benedictine habit worn by monks consists of a black tunic, scapular, and hood. The cowl, a voluminous outer garment with a hood and long, wide sleeves, is worn in choir and also traditionally made of black material. There are several variations to the Benedictine habit. The Camaldolese monks wear a white tunic and scapular as well as a white cowl.
From Roseman's first sojourn in a monastery, a Benedictine abbey on the coast of Kent, in April 1978, the breadth and geographical scope of his work over the following months and years brought the artist into more than sixty-five monasteries from England to Ireland and across the Continent to Eastern Europe; from Sweden, during the season of the midnight sun, to Spain at Christmas. "The pictures - splendid and telling all at once - form the stimulating vanguard towards so original and deep a study of the monastic life,'' states the respected art journal ARA arte religioso actual, Madrid, in its reportage ''Stanley Roseman y la Vida Monastica.''
Roseman's interest in the monastic life, which he notes is "interwoven with the history and culture of Europe;'' his studies on monasticism; and with the encouragement of monks and nuns, the artist wrote a text on monasticism and his work to accompany his paintings and drawings. The Oxford scholar and Benedictine monk Dom Bernard Green kindly read a draft of the manuscript and writes in a warm letter to the artist: "You portray the background and aims of life in monasteries so well, showing such a deep understanding of the monastic life. . . . Your descriptions of the monasteries you visited are very evocative, setting the scene for your portraits and giving such a very vivid impression of the life as it is followed in all its variety. I found it easy to imagine the monasteries that I had never visited, and certainly recognized those that I had, from your accounts of them.''
"Lorenzo de' Medici, called Il Magnifico, inherited the humanist ideals of his grandfather. In the second half of the fifteenth century, Lorenzo, his brother Giuliano, and other distinguished members of Florence's Platonic Academy, including the philosopher Marsilio Ficino; poet and man of letters Cristoforo Landini; and architect and art theorist Leon Battista Alberti gathered at Camaldoli for study and discourse in the newly built conference room, called the Hall of the Academies, in the guesthouse of the monastery.
When the Monastery received in 1986 a Christmas gift from the artist of a reproduction of his drawing Two Monks Bowing, Abbey of Solesmes, collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., Don Bernardino wrote Roseman a thoughtful letter saying that his drawing is "very beautiful and meaningful'' and that the publication of his work "will be appreciated by everybody, especially the monks." Don Bernardino closes, "I hope we will see you again; meanwhile I greet you and Ronald, with my best regards and wishes.''
The Sub-prior Don Bernardino Cozzarini wrote the letter of invitation to Roseman and Davis. Don Bernardino had been in correspondence with the artist in years past and was also greatly encouraging of his work. During the mid-1980's when Roseman was much engaged in writing on the monastic life, Don Bernardino kindly sent him copies of the Camaldoli publication Vita Monastica, a scholarly journal whose contributors included Don Benedetto, Don Emanuele, and Don Bernardino, who in 2005 was elected Prior General.
A major part of Roseman's oeuvre on the monastic life is expressed in the medium of drawing, considered the foundation of the visual arts. The celebrated sixteenth-century Florentine architect, painter, and author Giorgio Vasari 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.''
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 a date or an inscription as to the identity of the sitter or place, confirms the artist's intention of having created an autonomous work. Roseman is a prolific and versatile draughtsman whose drawings, encompassing a range of subjects in a variety of drawing materials, are autonomous works of art.
Roseman and Davis were invited to take their meals with the monks in the refectory. "The dinners and suppers were simple but hearty," Roseman writes, "and the pasta, of different kinds and preparations, was always plentiful and delicious. As did some of monks at breakfast, Ronald and I also applied a little olive oil on our bread to enjoy with a flavorful cup of coffee."
"St Benedict in the Epilogue of his Rule (Chapter 73) counsels the monk to be guided by the Holy Scriptures, the Lives of the Fathers, the Rule of the fourth-century monk and leading churchman St. Basil, and the Institutes and Conferences of the fifth-century monk John Cassian, who brought the teachings of the Desert Fathers from Egypt and Judea to Gaul and adapted them to a Western monastic context. Although Benedict compiled his Rule for contemplatives living in community, he also encourages those inclined to live a contemplative life in solitude.
The Monastery and Hermitage of Camaldoli, with its centuries-old monastic tradition, has given Roseman the wonderful and important opportunity to create drawings of monks following either a cenobitic or an eremitic life within one monastic community. "The creation of my work at Camaldoli," Roseman writes in acknowledgement, "would not have been possible without the gracious hospitality and encouragement of the monks, to whom I am deeply grateful." From the artist's text on the monastic life:
At Camaldoli that summer Roseman and Davis made a gift to the monastery of an inscribed copy of the fine art book Stanley Roseman and the Dance - Drawings from the Paris Opéra, which Davis had published on the occasion of the exhibition of the artist's drawings presented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in 1996. In his introductory text, Roseman speaks of his dedication to drawing, as with his work on the monastic life. The Introduction reproduces Two Monks Bowing, Abbey of Solesmes, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
"Dante refers to the celebrated Hermitage in the Apennines in his epic poem The Divine Comedy. 'Oh,' replied he, 'at foot of the Casentino crosses a stream named Archiano, which rises in the Apennine above the Hermitage.' The great Florentine poet eulogizes the saintly founder and his brethren: '. . . here is Romualdus, here are my brethren, who within the cloisters their footsteps stayed and kept a steadfast heart.' ''
Dr. Henri Pauwels, Chief Curator of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, and Mrs. Phil Mertens, Chief Curator of the Department of Modern Art, acquired in 1986 the drawing of Brother Paolo and a portrait of the elderly Benedictine monk Father Xavier from Pannonhalma Monastery, Hungary. In a cordial letter to Ronald Davis, who introduced his colleague's work to the museum, the distinguished Curators acknowledge receipt of:
Roseman and Davis were appreciative to receive a gift from their longtime friend Don Thomas Matus, theologian, musicologist, author, and the subject of a suite of excellent portrait drawings by Roseman that summer at Camaldoli. Don Thomas's gift The Mystery of Romuald and the Five Brothers is an enlightening book that relates a history of the founder of Camaldoli along with the author's own personal reflections and his translations of the hagiographic texts by Bruno of Querfurt (d.1009), a disciple of St. Romuald; and Peter Damian, an eleventh-century Camaldolese monk. Don Thomas Matus thoughtfully inscribes his book: "To my dear friends Stanley and Ronald, With gratitude for your presence, with prayer for your work, with blessings on your life.''
"The Prior led me up a snowy path to the hermitage of Don Antonio. In anticipation of meeting a hermit, I was expecting to meet an elderly, white-bearded monk, but Don Antonio was in his forties and clean-shaven, a nice-looking man with short, black hair. The lines that seemed etched on his cheeks and brow bespoke, however, of his asceticism and eremitic life.
"At Camaldoli, situated only some 50 kilometers east of Florence, I paid homage to a Florentine Renaissance aesthetic in using red chalk for a series of drawings of Camaldolese monks. Leonardo da Vinci is credited with having introduced red chalk, or sanguine, for drawing during his early Florentine period from around 1475-1480. Red chalk brings a warm chromatic element to a drawing and complements black and white chalks, which predate sanguine as a graphic medium. Raphael employed red chalk for drawing in the years he worked in Florence, from 1504-1508, as did Michelangelo in his return to the city after 1516. Red chalk was also taken up by other dedicated Florentine draughtsmen including Fra Bartolommeo, del Sarto, Pontormo, Bronzino, and Vasari, as well as numerous other artists through the Cinquecento.''
In the present work Don Antonio, Portrait of a Hermit, (fig. 8), the artist drew with vigorous strokes of black chalk complemented by chiaroscuro modeling of the chalks, warm shading, cool skin tones from reserved areas of gray paper, and luminous white highlights on the face of the monk, his head inclined and eyes lowered as he prays.
1. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris (text in French and English), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996, p. 10.
2. Dante, La Divina Commedia, Il Purgatorio, Canto V, 94-95, translated by Charles Eliot Norton.
3. Lino Vigilucci, Camaldoli:A Journey into its History and Spirituality, (California: Source Books and Hermitage Books, 1995), p. 47.
4. Ibid, p. 50.
5. Christopher Hibbert, The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1979), pp. 37, 122.
6. Giorgio Vasari , Vasari on Technique, (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), p. 205.
7. Dante, La Divina Commedia, Il Purgatorio, see footnote 2 above; Il Paradiso, Canto XXII, 49-51, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
8. Joseph Meder, The Mastery of Drawing, translated by Winslow Ames, (New York: Arabis Books, 1978), p. 92.
9. Stanley Roseman, Stanley Roseman and the Dance - Drawings from the Paris Opéra, (Paris: Ronald Davis, 1996), p. 9.