GRECO, El
(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

Allegory of the Camaldolese Order

1599-1600
Oil on canvas, 124 x 90 cm
Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid

Standing on a plinth to either side of a tabernacle containing two tablets with inscriptions are St Benedict (left) and St Romuald (right). In the sixth century St benedict drew up the rule that became the basis of Western monasticism: it is presumably the Benedictine rule in the book he holds. St Romuald (c. 950-1027) was the founder of the austere Camaldolese order - and offshoot of the Benedictines - so called from the monastery he established at Camaldoli, a mountainous place near Arezzo in Italy, of which he holds a model in his hand.

In the painting the ideal monastic settlement is depicted: we see individual hermitages or cells, each with their own garden, built around a central chapel with a common building and fountain near the entrance gate. The community, sited on a mountainous plateau, is enclosed by a dense forest.




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