The Monastic Life
Stanley Roseman drawing Trappist monks in Choir,
St. Sixtus Abbey, Flanders, 1981.
From England and Ireland to the Continent
3. A Trappist Monk at Dinner, 1978
St. Sixtus Abbey, Belgium
Chalks on paper, 33 x 48 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux
     Roseman drew at the Divine Office, the canonical hours when the monks assemble in choir to pray and to chant the Psalms in the early morning, throughout the day, and at Vigils in the night. The St. Sixtus abbey church, an intimate, rectangular structure of ochre-colored bricks illuminated by rows of windows near the ceiling, with panes of gray- and beige-colored glass, provided the tonal leitmotif in Roseman's use of chalks on ochre paper.
     The Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna's world-renowned collection of Master Drawings, was the first museum to acquire Roseman's work on the monastic life. The acquisition included A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir, (fig. 2), drawn at St. Sixtus in early October and purchased the following month by the Albertina.
2. A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir
1978, St. Sixtus Abbey, Belgium
Chalks on paper, 33 x 48 cm
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
     The Director of the Albertina Dr. Walter Koschatzky had written a cordial letter to Ronald Davis to invite him to the Museum to present a selection of Roseman's drawings. At their meeting in November, Dr. Koschatzky purchased two drawings for the Museum's collection: A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir and an arresting portrait of the white-bearded Trappist monk Brother Theodore, whom the artist drew also in October at the Flemish Abbey of Westmalle. The eminent Director of the Albertina thoughtfully wrote an enthusiastic letter of acknowledgement, dated 5 November 1978, to Ronald Davis:
     "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."

     Roseman's work at St. Sixtus Abbey includes the impressive drawing A Trappist Monk at Dinner, conserved in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, (fig. 3, below). "The monastic meal is an ancient ritual observed with great formality,'' explains Roseman in writing about his work on the monastic life. "The meal is taken in silence while a reader, assigned for the week, reads aloud from an edifying book. The Rule of St. Benedict prescribes regulations regarding meals. There are chapters on the hours meals should be taken, the weekly servers in the kitchen, the weekly reader, the measure of food, and the measure of drink. . . . Trappists maintain an abstemious diet which, among other restrictions, prohibits the consumption of meat and meat by-products. . . ."[1]
     On subsequent returns to St. Sixtus Abbey over the years, the artist created equally fine drawings of the monks at prayer, work, and study, as well as portrait drawings of members of the community, exemplified by Brother Jos, 1981, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, and reproduced on the website page "Exhibition at the Albertina." Roseman also painted a beautiful oil on canvas portrait Abbot Remi, which the monastery commissioned in 1981 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of St. Sixtus.
4. Brother Petrus walking in the Cloister 1978, Westmalle Abbey, Belgium
Chalks on paper, 33 x 48 cm
Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels
     Following the acquisition of Brother Petrus walking in the Cloister by the Belgian Royal Library, Roseman sent the Abbey of Westmalle a reproduction of the drawing. Abbot Bartholomeus writes in a letter of appreciation:
- The Boston Globe
     The Boston Globe published in 1979 on its page "US and World" a news article entitled "Monks' life through art," the first reportage of Roseman's work on the monastic life, which was to again receive praise in newspapers and journals worldwide. The Boston Globe published in 1981 a cover story on the artist in its Sunday magazine. A Trappist Monk at Dinner is one of several works by Roseman featured in The Boston Globe Magazine.
- Abbot Bartholomeus de Strijcker, OSCO
  Abbey of Westmalle, Belgium
© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and website content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
Books and Libraries
Monastic Origins of European Towns and Cities
9. Father Damian, Missionary Monk, kneeling in Prayer, 1984
Archabbey St. Ottilien, Germany
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
    "The gracious hospitality that Ronald and I had received in monasteries in England and Ireland, we received again in Belgium. Abbot Remi Heyse, a stocky, amiable, bearded man, was only a few years older than Ronald and I. Remi's English was far better than Ronald's and my knowledge of Flemish - which for me consisted mainly of names, as van Eyck, van der Weyden, Brueghel, Rubens, Jordaens, and van Dyck. . . . With a hearty welcome from Abbot Remi, Brother Bertrand, and the Community, I enthusiastically took up my paper and chalks again to continue my work on the monastic life.''
6. Poster to the Albertina exhibition
Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern
, 1983.
The poster features the drawing Brother Thijs in the Library
- Carel van Tuyll, Chief Curator
  The Teyler Museum, Haarlem
"I don't know how I can thank you sufficiently.
It is a very beautiful and artistic present. I showed it to Brother Petrus. We will look for a good place.
Fr. John Baptist will find an appropriate frame. Again thank you very much.''

- Dr. Walter Koschatzky, Director
  Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
Stanley Roseman
     Abbot Gerard Mathijsen, greatly encouraging to the artist in his work on the monastic life, welcomed back Roseman and Davis on returns over the years to St. Adelbert Abbey, where they always received gracious hospitality from the Abbot and the Community. An excellent portrait drawing of Abbot Gerard is featured on the website page "Monastic Journey Continued," Page 2 - "Returning to the Netherlands."
     The librarian at St. Adelbert Abbey, Brother Thijs, a Biblical scholar, made the library accessible to Roseman and kindly assisted the artist with his research on monasticism.
     The journey to monasteries brought Roseman and Davis to the Netherlands, where they were warmly received by the Benedictine monks of St. Paulus Abbey, near Breda, and St. Adelbert Abbey, in north Holland.
On the Continent
to Belgium, the Netherlands,
and Germany
A Modern-Day Monastery Town
7. A Benedictine Monk in Choir
1978, St. Bonifaz Abbey, Germany
Chalks on paper, 48 x 33 cm
Private Collection
    "During the Merovingian and Carolingian periods, with the great expansion of monastic life throughout Europe, many monasteries developed into self-sufficient urban centers, or monastery towns. For example, the ninth-century architectural plan for the Abbey of St. Gall, which gave rise to the city by that name in northeast Switzerland, records the extensive monastic complex of abbey church and numerous conventual buildings; workshops, farmyards, gardens, and orchards; infirmary and doctor's house; school, guesthouse, kitchen, bakery, and brewery; and a hospice for pilgrims and the poor. . . .
    "At the northern Frankish Abbey of St. Riquier, from which grew the town of Abbeville, along the Somme River, there extended around the monastery in 831, as recorded in the Chronicles of Hariulf, 2,500 houses divided into specific quarters for the various craftsmen, including cobblers, carpenters, tanners, fullers, goldsmiths, and masons. Monasteries, such as St. Riquier, also held weekly or yearly markets. The abbot's jurisdiction covered additional dwellings, chapels, workshops, and taverns, as well as a district for the militiamen hired to protect the monastery town. . . . ''[4]
The Monastic Meal
     The Teyler Museum, which had previously acquired Roseman's drawings from monasteries in England, Ireland, and France, acquired the present work in 1986 with the artist's drawing of the Lutheran Benedictine monk Brother Caesarius from Östanbäcks Kloster, in Sweden. (See page "Exhibition at the Albertina.")
"The two splendid drawings arrived safely and have now joined their fellows.
Both 'Brother Caesarius in Choir' and the 'Missionary Monk, St. Ottilien'
fully lived up to expectation and we are proud
that we are now able to show such a rounded and representative group
of Mr. Roseman's drawings in the Teyler Museum.''

     The following are further excerpts from the artist's text in which he dedicates a chapter to the monastic origins of European towns and cities:
The Monastery Town
    "The Benedictine Archabbey of St. Ottilien, about 40 kilometers west of Munich, is a modern-day monastery town,'' Roseman further relates. "Founded in 1884, St. Ottilien developed from a modest, mission settlement to the present, sprawling complex comprising the abbey church and buildings for the monastic community, some twenty workshops, farms for livestock and poultry, and many acres of land under cultivation.
    "The monastery runs a boarding school, junior college, guest house, and retreat center. The printing company continues a centuries-old monastic tradition of book production, and a bookstore and boutique offer publications and products from St. Ottilien and other monasteries. A hotel and restaurant accommodate guests and pilgrims. An ethnological museum of African and Asian culture relates to the Congregation of St. Otillien's missionary activities in Africa, Asia, and South America.
    "The monastery post office, which adjoins the entrance building, issues its own postmark. And the St. Ottilien train station, on the north-south railway line between Augsburg and Garmisch, reaffirms the identity of a modern-day monastery town.''
8. The St. Ottilien Train Station.
The station stop at the Archabbey of St. Ottilien
is on the north-south railway line
between Augsburg and Garmisch, 1984.
     The Archabbot invited Roseman and Davis to St. Ottilien in 1984 on the occasion of the monastery's 100th anniversary of its founding, and again the artist created a series of impressive drawings.
     Roseman's drawings from St. Ottilien include acquisitions by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich; the Institute of Art History of the University of Leiden; and the Vatican Museum. The Monastery has several drawings that were a gift from the artist in appreciation of the Abbot's gracious hospitality. (See "Monastic Journey Continued'' - Page 3 - "Historic Regions of Monasticism in Bavaria and Swabia.'')
     The Prior of the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle, Father Tillo writes to Roseman and Davis: "We feel delighted to have you both at our guesthouse,'' and closes with the words, "Let us hope you will feel at home here.'' The Prior's letter foretold of the generous hospitality the two friends were to receive at Westmalle that October 1978.
     The Trappist monastery, located in the province of Antwerp in northern Belgium, dates its origins to 1794. With the gift of a farm at Westmalle, the nascent community continued the Trappist tradition of working the land. In 1836 the Abbey began operating a small brewery that grew into a major producer of excellent quality beer.
     Recounting his first morning at Westmalle, Roseman writes:
    "I accompanied the Prior to the monks' dormitory, where he introduced me to Brother Petrus, a friendly, white bearded monk in his eighties, who warmly welcomed me into his room. Speaking together, I learned that Brother Petrus had worked most of his life on the monastery farm. The Prior soon left us, and I took up my paper and chalks to draw a portrait of the elderly monk seated in a chair by a window.''
    "After breakfast, when I had returned to my room to prepare my paper and chalks, there was a knock on my door. Father Tillo, the Prior, had come to ask if I would like to begin my work that morning. He said that Abbot Bartholomeus had placed a notice on the bulletin board in the cloister to tell the Community that I would be drawing in the monastery. I was very appreciative of the Abbot's thoughtfulness, and with his and the Prior's enthusiasm, I was all the more excited to begin my work.
     Roseman further relates in his journal that the following day he was greeted by Brother Petrus, who was taking his exercise walking in the cloister. Having paper and his box of chalks in hand, the artist thus had the opportunity to create the wonderful drawing Brother Petrus walking in the Cloister, (fig. 4), a work much appreciated and reproduced in The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine cover story on Roseman and in the Belgian art magazine Kunstecho's, which also published an enthusiastic reportage on the artist's work on the monastic life.
    "From my research and study of monastic history and from my sojourns in monasteries,'' Roseman writes, "I learned of the monastic origins of numerous European towns and cities. As the French historian Pierre Riché explains in his informative book Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, 'the urban scene,' to use the author's phrase, developed, in part, from earlier Roman settlements, around rural palaces and princely residences, at ports along great river routes, and in proximity to monasteries, which 'almost small towns themselves, contributed to the origins of medieval towns.'[2]
    "Munich,'' Roseman continues, "derives its name from the Old German 'Munichen,' meaning 'the home of the monks.' The city traces its origins to a settlement of monks who had come from the eighth-century Benedictine Abbey of Tegernsee, along Lake Tegernsee in southern Bavaria. . . .'' 
5. Father Adelbert absorbed in Reading, 1978
St. Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands
Chalks on paper, 33 x 48 cm
Private collection, Holland
     Benedictines have a long association with books. Monasteries were major producers of books in the West from the sixth through the twelfth century, and scholarship and literary work continue to be an important part of Benedictine monasticism.
     The Rule of St. Benedict assigns great importance to lectio divina, sacred reading, and allocates a significant portion of time in the monastic schedule for reading and study. Having a love of books himself, Roseman sought the monastery library for his own reading and study as well as a place in which to draw, exemplified by the beautiful drawing Father Adelbert absorbed in Reading, St. Adelbert Abbey, 1978, (fig. 5).
Albertina poster announcing the exhibition "Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern," 1983. The poster features the artist's drawing in the Albertina collection, "Brother Thijs in the Library," 1982, St. Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands.
     Father Adelbert is named after the eighth-century saint who was venerated in the region of Friesland and whose relics are preserved in the abbey church. St. Adelbert Abbey traces its history to the founding of a monastery in the tenth century in what is today the village of Egmond-Binnen. By the end of the eleventh century, the monastery's flourishing scriptorium was producing notable manuscripts that included a history of Holland.
    ''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 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.''
     Abbot Odilo thoughtfully extended his invitation to Roseman and Davis to return to St. Bonifaz Abbey after their journey to monasteries in Austria, Hungary, and Poland. Returning in late November and resuming his work at St. Bonifaz, Roseman also drew a fine portrait of Abbot Odilo as a gift to the monastery in appreciation to the Abbot for his gracious hospitality and sincere encouragement of the artist's work.
     The Archabbot of St. Ottilien, Notker Wolf, an amiable, hospitable man, expressed over the years his enthusiasm for Roseman's work, which includes drawings from a return to St. Ottilien in summer of 1982 and again that autumn when the artist was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Archabbot. "I am thinking very often of you, and I see you still painting here in my room.'' writes Abbot Notker writes to Roseman.  "It was a wonderful human experience. I enjoy the portrait always when I enter the room. . . .''
     The monk seems an anonymous figure seated in choir, his hood covering his head lowered in prayer and his hands tucked into his sleeves. A Benedictine Monk in Choir is an appropriate pictorial image to represent the generations of monks who have given their collective identity to the name of the city, München.
     St. Bonifaz Abbey was founded by Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1835. In a further example of what Roseman describes as monastic life being "interwoven with the history and culture of Europe,'' the artist writes: "The royal patron commissioned for Munich an architectural complex of basilica, monastery, and museum of antiquities to stand opposite the Glyptothek, which he had previously built to house Greek and Roman sculptures. King Ludwig laid a single foundation stone for the three adjoining buildings to symbolize the union of religion, learning, and art.''[3]
Continuing across the Continent to Austria, Hungary, and Poland
     The Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, which houses an important collection of prints and drawings, conserves this fine work with its lively synthesis of line and tone in black and bistre chalks and accents of white. The poignant drawing of Brother Petrus depicts the elderly monk as he walks with cane in hand down the cloister at Westmalle.
     The artist effectively uses white chalk to describe forms, as with the bowl and pitcher in the foreground and the monk's right hand holding a spoon; to render highlights on the elderly monk's forehead, cranium, and sleeves of his tunic; and to indicate spacial dimension. Roseman has created a striking pictorial image of a Trappist monk at dinner.
     The diagonal composition and the fluid strokes of black and bistre chalks that depict the Benedictine habit bring the viewer's attention to the monk's face finely rendered in bistre and black with touches of white on his closely cropped beard. The monk's hands are held together in a reverential gesture as he kneels in prayer.
     The present work Father Damian in Choir, 1984, (fig. 9), entered the Teyler Museum, in the Netherlands. The Museum houses a renowned collection of Master Drawings from the Italian Renaissance, including sheets by Michelangelo and Raphael, and from the seventeenth-century Dutch School, notably prints and drawings by Rembrandt.
     The Chief Curator of the Teyler Museum, Carel van Tuyll, writes in a letter of appreciation to Ronald Davis, who had introduced his colleague's work to the museum:
     Roseman drew in the refectory of St. Sixtus during mealtimes. Brother Pacific, the seated figure on the left in choir in the Albertina drawing above, is seen here in the refectory. The pyramidal composition places the figure in the center of the page, with strong contrasts of black and white chalk in the depiction of the monk's black scapular and white tunic. The ochre paper imparts a warm tonality to the composition and suggests the ambience of the refectory, built of ochre-colored bricks, with floor tiles of ochre and sepia.
     A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir is a fascinating depiction of three distinct personalities whose monastic profession brought them together for the Divine Office in choir.
     With vigorous strokes of black, white, and bistre chalks, Roseman effectively abstracts the voluminous forms of the monks' cowls in contrasting light to dark to light. The rectangular format and the ochre paper suggests the architecture and ambience of the abbey church. The monks' faces are finely rendered with the blending of the chalks.
     In this captivating drawing, the Trappist monk on the left, wearing a voluminous white cowl, leans forward; the visiting Benedictine clothed in a black cowl sits upright; and the bearded Trappist has settled into his place in choir. The ruddy complexions indicated by accents of red chalk on the faces of the two Trappist monks tell of their work on the farm, a traditional Trappist occupation.
Stanley Roseman's work on the monastic life - a life centered on contemplation and prayer - brought the artist and his colleague Ronald Davis in spring and summer of 1978 to Benedictine and Trappist monasteries in England and Ireland. Davis participated in the research and planning of the itinerary and wrote letters to monasteries to introduce the artist and explain their request for a visit. In early September, they returned to their first monastery, St. Augustine's Abbey on the coast of Kent, where the artist resumed his work.
     With letters of invitation from monasteries on the Continent, the two friends departed England at the end of September, took a Hovercraft across the English Channel to Calais, and drove north to Flanders.
     The warm letter from the Prior of the Trappist Abbey of St. Sixtus heightened Roseman and Davis' expectation of their first monastery on the Continent. "You will be very welcome here, you and Stanley,'' assures Brother Bertrand in his letter, "It will be a pleasure for us to receive you in our monastery.''
     St. Sixtus Abbey was founded in 1831 in the farming countryside of Western Flanders. The compound of brick buildings comprised the abbey church, the monks' living quarters, workshops, guesthouse, farm buildings, and brewery, which provided the monastery with its main source of income. In European countries where beer is the standard beverage, brewing beer is a centuries-old monastic occupation. Roseman recounts in his journal:
     Having retired from the important administrative post of novice master in charge of the education and preparation of those aspiring to the monastic life, Father Adelbert had considerably more time for spiritual reading. In a clear, northern light entering the library, Roseman has rendered with strong chiaroscuro modeling the Benedictine monk seated at the reading table.
     The monk's black Benedictine habit establishes the pyramidal composition, and the gray paper imparts a cool atmospheric tonality to the drawing. The viewer's attention is engaged by the open book; the monk's hands, one of which rests on a line of text; and the face of the monk, whose eyes under bushy white eyebrows are intently fixed on a page.
     Returning to the Abbey in 1982, Roseman drew the work entitled Brother Thijs in the Library, which entered the collection of the Albertina. The splendid drawing with its harmonious interplay of fluid lines and rich tones of the chalks on gray paper depicts the bearded Benedictine monk seen in profile with an open book on his lap. The drawing, with its striking mise-en-page, was featured on the poster for the Museum's first one-man exhibition of drawings by an American artist: Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klöstern (Drawings from the Monasteries), 1983, (fig. 6). (See page "Exhibition at the Albertina.'')
     The majestic Baroque Abbey of Melk, a centuries-old Benedictine monastery of great historical importance in the spiritual and cultural life of Austria, was the next destination for Roseman and Davis on their journey to monasteries across the Continent.
     Roseman and Davis were also very appreciative to receive cordial invitations from the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma, whose founding in the late tenth century is integrated with the founding of the Hungarian nation; and from the eleventh-century Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec, near Krakow. The invitations from Pannonhalma and Tyniec gave Roseman the possibility to extend the geographical scope of his work farther east in Europe where monasticism is observed under the Rule of St. Benedict. However, in the 1970's there was the uncertainty of being granted the required visas to travel behind the Iron Curtain to Hungary and Poland. (See Page 4, below.)
The Artist and the Trappists
Stanley Roseman drawing Trappist monks in Choir, St. Sixtus Abbey, Flanders. © Photo by Ronald Davis
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, “A Visiting Benedictine in a Trappist Choir,’’1978, St. Sixtus Abbey, Belgium, chalks on paper, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna. © Stanley Roseman
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, “Brother Adelbert absorbed in Reading,’’1978, St. Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands, chalks on paper, Private collection, Holland. © Stanley Roseman
 © Photo by Ronald Davis
 © Stanley Roseman
 © Stanley Roseman
     Father Damian in Choir is exemplary of Roseman's skillful handling of the chalk medium, with a harmonious interaction of line and tone in rendering form and expressing the identity of the individual. 
     In the late nineteenth century, Westmalle was a leader in establishing the branch of Cistercian monasticism called the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, more familiarly known as the Trappist Order, from the ascetic reforms instituted at the Abbey of Trappe, in Normandy, two centuries before.
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, “A Trappist Monk at Dinner,’’1978, St. Sixtus Abbey, Belgium, chalks on paper, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. © Stanley Roseman
 © Stanley Roseman
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, “Brother Petrus walking in the Cloister,’’1978, Westmalle Abbey, Belgium, chalks on paper, Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels. © Stanley Roseman
 © Stanley Roseman
     In the engaging drawing A Benedictine Monk in Choir, St. Bonifaz Abbey, 1978, (fig. 7), Roseman depicts a seated monk enveloped in his voluminous black cowl. Vigorous black and bistre parallel hatching is complemented by curvilinear strokes of black chalk describing the cascade of folds of the monk's wide sleeves. Bistre chalk gives warm shading to the cowl.
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, “A Benedictine Monk in Choir,’’1978, St. Bonifaz Abbey, Germany, chalks on paper, Private collection. © Stanley Roseman
 © Stanley Roseman
The Monastic Life: Page 3
     Munich today is still a "home of the monks,'' as Roseman and Davis experienced in October 1978 at St. Bonifaz Abbey, in the center of the city. Abbot Odilo Lechner had written to Davis a warm letter of invitation: "You and Stanley Roseman are very welcome when you are coming to Munich in October.''
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, "Father Damian, Missionary Monk, kneeling in Prayer, 1984, Archabbey St. Ottilien, Germany. ©Stanley Roseman
The St. Ottilien train station. The station stop at the Archabbey of St. Ottilien is on the north-south railway line between Augsburg and Garmisch. © Photo by Ronald Davis
1. Louis J. Lekai, The Cistercians (Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1977), pp. 448, 449.
2. Pierre Riché, The Age of Charlemagne (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1978), p. 35.
3. Wolfgang Braunfels, Monasteries of Western Europe -The Architecture of the Orders
   (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 225.
4. Riché, The Age of Charlemagne, p. 39.