The MONASTIC LIFE
 ''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.''
- The Times, London
Two Monks Bowing, 1979
Abbaye de Solesmes, France
Chalks on paper,  35 x 50 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
     When Roseman began his work in the monasteries in the late 1970's, monastic life was little known to the general public and an unfamiliar subject for a modern artist's work. Monastic life was rarely a topic for coverage in the popular press. Unlike today, monasteries then were closed to television cameras and documentary filmmakers, and the Internet, with its vast information resources, did not exist. Roseman's paintings and drawings brought a new awareness of the centuries-old and far-reaching contemplative tradition in Western culture.
     The respected art journal ARA arte religioso actual, Madrid, published in the fall of 1979 an enthusiastic reportage entitled ''Stanley Roseman y la Vida Monastica'' and states: ''The pictures - splendid and telling all at once - form the stimulating vanguard towards so original and deep a study of the monastic life.''
2. Father Augustine in Choir, 1983
Trappist Abbey of Mellifont, Ireland
Chalks on paper,  50 x 35 cm
Dallas Museum of Art
3. Dom Henry,
Portrait of a Benedictine Monk
, 1978
St. Augustine's Abbey, England
Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm.
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen
"profoundly expressive of the individual and the interior life"[3]
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4. Stanley Roseman drawing a Belgian Trappist monk in the kitchen.
     The artist drew monastic communities taking meals in silence in the refectory, while a weekly reader at the lectern read aloud from an edifying book.
Ora et Labora
5. Two Monks Bowing, 1979
Abbaye de Solesmes, France
Chalks on paper,  35 x 50 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
     The Bibliothèque Nationale de France in its biographical essay on Roseman praises the work as:
''The project is a splendid artistic collection, an historic record of a way of life
never seen before on such a scale. . . . Each drawing is a gem of the first quality
and all of them together offer a unique impression of monastic life.''

 - Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro

     The Times, London, published in 1980 a superlative, full-length page review on Roseman's work. The review features the artist's deeply felt portrait of the revered, ascetic Abbot Emeritus of Subiaco, Dom Egidio Gavazzi, whom the artist drew at prayer in the abbot's cell. The invitation in December 1978 for Roseman to draw at the Benedictine Abbey of Subiaco was of historic significance in bringing the artist's first year of work in the monasteries to a close for the sixth-century monastery, situated in a mountain valley in the Latium region of central Italy, was founded by Benedict of Nursia (c.480-c.547). The saintly Italian abbot comprised a rule, known as the Rule of St. Benedict, which provides spiritual counsel and regulates communal life in a monastery and is the basis for monastic observance in the Western Church.
Drawings from the Monasteries
Albertina, Vienna
6. 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
, 1983
     The Graphische Sammlung Albertina presented in 1983 the first one-man exhibition of drawings by an American artist: 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 on September 6th concurrently with the opening 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's drawings at the world-renowned Albertina brought great prestige to the artist and his work.
     Featured on the poster for Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Köstern is a beautiful drawing from the Albertina's collection Brother Thijs in the Library, 1982, chalks on paper, St Adelbert Abbey, the Netherlands.
9. Sister Immaculata, 1983
St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Ireland
Chalks on paper, 50 x 35 cm
Teylers Museum, Haarlem
     The Albertina exhibition also included the impressive portrait of an elderly Trappist nun Sister Immaculata, (fig. 9), whom Roseman drew at St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, during his return to monasteries in Ireland in the winter of 1983.
     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.''

"Rembrandtesque"
     The Director of the Teyler Museum, Eric Ebbinge, writes in an enthusiastic letter on behalf of himself and his Keeper of Prints and Drawings, Carel van Tuyll, to the artist's colleague Ronald Davis:
     ''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.
- Eric Ebbinge
  Director, Teylers Museum
     Over the years, Roseman continued to resume his work on the monastic life with gracious invitations from monasteries he had not been to before as well as returning to those he knew well. The monks' and nuns' high esteem for the artist's paintings and drawings, expressed in conversation and in correspondence; their admiration for his knowledge of monastic history; and their appreciation of his own contemplative nature earned Roseman enduring friendships and repeated invitations to take up again his work in their monasteries.
 ''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.''

© Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis - All Rights Reserved
Visual imagery and website content may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever.
An Invitation from the Abbot Primate in Rome
     The Abbot Primate of the Order of St. Benedict, Dom Victor Dammertz, OSB, invited Roseman and Davis as his guests at the abbot's residence, the Badia Primaziale Sant'Anselmo, in Rome, in late winter of 1979. The Abbot Primate was greatly encouraging to Roseman for his work. In an enthusiastic letter to the Vatican, the Abbot Primate writes:
     ''This is, as far as I know, the first time any artist of note has undertaken such a project. Roseman's work has greatly impressed those of us in the monastic world who have been fortunate enough to see it. His pictures are technically of the highest quality, and he has succeeded in a remarkable way in conveying the spiritual dimension of his subject.''
An Audience with Pope John Paul II
- Dom Victor Dammertz, OSB
  Abbot Primate of the Order of St. Benedict
     "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."
- Walter Koschatzky
   Director of the Albertina

''The drawings 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.''

10. Pope John Paul II receiving Stanley Roseman (center),
 and Ronald Davis at the Vatican, 21 March 1979.
STANLEY ROSEMAN
 "Stanley, your beautiful paintings and drawings devoted to contemplation and prayer
promote a spirit of friendship and understanding
between Christians and Jews and all people of goodwill."

- Pope Saint John Paul II
     Having a love of books, Roseman often sought the ambiance of monastery libraries in which to draw as well as a place for his own reading and study. He knew well the library at St. Adelbert from his first sojourn at the monastery in 1978, when Brother Thijs, the librarian, assisted the artist in his early research on monastic life. In the gray light of the abbey library, the artist has concentrated on rendering the monk's face in profile, the whiteness of his complexion in stark contrast to his dark hair and long beard that give him an appearance consistent with his erudition as a Biblical scholar.
     The portrait of Sister Immaculata in meditation and prayer is masterly rendered in the medium of chalk. With chiaroscuro modeling Roseman creates a harmony of cool skin tones and warm shading of the elderly woman's face with deep set eyes and a peaceful countenance.
     Glencairn was the first convent in which the artist drew in the early months of his work in 1978. Abbess Mary Imelda had written a gracious letter of invitation saying, ''. . . you will be very welcome.'' Due to the extraordinary circumstances regarding the artist's work, Roseman was given the unique privilege of being invited inside the cloister to draw the Trappist nuns.
- NRC Handelsblad, Rotterdam-Amsterdam
     ''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.''
11. Taking hold of Roseman's arm as they spoke,
Pope John Paul II said that he was "deeply moved"
by the artist's ecumenical work on the monastic life.
Vatican, March 21, 1979
     When the monastery bell tolled for the Divine Office, Roseman accompanied the monks or the nuns to draw when they assembled in choir to chant the Psalms at the canonical hours in the predawn, throughout the day, and at Vigils in the night.

     The artist drew members of the community studying in the library and reading and writing at their desks in the scriptorium, as well as relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea in the calefactory.
     Roseman drew monks and nuns at the communal worship in church and in prayer and meditation in the quietude of their cells. Exemplifying the monastic dictum "ora et labora," the artist drew members of monastic communities in various kinds of work and in humble chores, such as carrying buckets of feed for livestock on the farm or peeling potatoes in the kitchen.
     Roseman drew the spiritual work of art at the Divine Office in the French Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes in summer of 1979, the second year of the artist's work in monasteries.
     Also reproduced in The Times is Roseman's drawing, ''vital and expressively eloquent'' (ARA, Madrid), that portrays the bespectacled, round-faced Brother Alberto, the amiable Spanish cook who stirs ingredients in a frying pan and with a friendly regard looks out at the artist drawing him in the kitchen of the Cistercian Abbey of Poblet, on the plains of Tarragona.

     The Albertina was the first museum to acquire Roseman's drawings from the monasteries. In November of 1978 Ronald Davis was invited by Dr. Walter Koschatzky, Director of the Albertina, to show him a selection of Roseman's drawings. Dr. Koschatzky purchased two drawings Roseman had made in Flemish Trappist monasteries the previous month. At their cordial meeting, the eminent Director of the Albertina thoughtfully wrote Davis a hand-written letter acknowledging the acquisition of the drawings and praising the artist for his work:
     "Nevertheless, in Western Art monastic life accounts for a small percentage of the extensive imagery on religious subject matter. From the thirteenth century there grew a popular demand for pictures of saints of the newly founded mendicant orders, which include the Order of Friars Minor, or Franciscans; Order of Friars Preachers, or Dominicans; Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or Carmelites; and the Austin Friars. Franciscan and Dominican friars were especially common to the cityscape and actively sought contact with society in contrast to those who sought the contemplative life behind the monastery walls.''
You are also cordially invited to visit: www.stanleyroseman-monasticlife.com
"a sweeping artistic project"
    ''When I began researching and planning my work on the monastic life, my thoughts were towards Europe for monastic life is interwoven with the history and culture of Europe. . . .[1]
     The Times review features at the top of the page the drawing Two Monks Bowing, Abbaye de Solesmes, 1979,  in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., presented here, (fig. 5).
     The President of France, Jacques Chirac, wrote a cordial letter, dated 9 May 1995, to Roseman and praises the artist for " 'Two Monks Bowing,' magnificent example of a work very successfully realized that you have dedicated to the contemplative life. I have greatly appreciated the classical tradition of your draughtsmanship, the magnificently suggested volumes, the precision of the forms and the proportions. With my congratulations.''
     The Abbey of Solesmes is renowned for the study and restoration of Gregorian chant. The reverential musical expression developed mainly within the context of monastic life, with the golden age of composition of Gregorian chant dating from the fifth to eighth centuries, and traces its origins to the singing of the Psalms in ancient Jewish liturgical worship in the Temple and the Synagogue.[4] Psalmody, the singing or chanting of the Psalms, is the foundation of the Divine Office, the daily round of communal prayer that is central to the monastic life.
Stanley Roseman embarked in 1978 on what the Los Angeles Times calls ''a sweeping artistic project.'' The artist was invited to live in Benedictine, Cistercian, Trappist, and Carthusian monasteries and share the day-to-day life in the cloister. Behind the monastery walls, Roseman painted and drew monks and nuns of the four monastic orders of the Western Church and created a monumental and critically acclaimed work on the monastic life - a life centered on contemplation and prayer.
     Roseman's ecumenical work, brought to realization in the enlightenment of Vatican II, depicts monks and nuns of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran faiths. Roseman created his work in over sixty monasteries throughout England, Ireland, and Continental Europe. The artist writes:
    "With the expansion of Benedictine monasticism throughout Europe in the Carolingian Age and Cistercian monasticism in the Twelfth Century Renaissance, the monastic orders - adhering to the precept ora et labora, "prayer and work" - continued to encourage spiritual ideals and contributed greatly to the cultural and economic advancement of Western civilization. . . .
An Unprecedented Work on the Monastic Life
     Dom Henry, Portrait of a Benedictine Monk, 1978, (fig. 3), was painted at the outset of Roseman's sojourns in the monasteries. The superb painting was acquired in 1986 by the Chief Curator of the Museums of France, François Bergot, for the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, of which he was the Director. In a cordial letter to the artist, the Chief Curator of the Museums of France expresses, "my admiration for this work of art of profound insight and spirituality."
     Dom Henry, an English Benedictine monk with ascetic features complemented by bright eyes and a sympathetic, caring nature, was in his early seventies when he sat for Roseman at St. Augustine's Abbey, on the coast of Kent.
     Roseman made the journey to the monasteries with his colleague Ronald Davis, who wrote letters to relate the artist's interest in monastic life as a subject for his work, helped in doing research, and took on the responsibilities for organizing their travels. With an enthusiastic letter of invitation from Abbot Gilbert Jones of St. Augustine's Abbey and his warm welcome and gracious hospitality, Roseman and Davis shared in the day-to-day life in the cloister. Encouraged by the Abbot and Community, Roseman began his work on the monastic life.
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, "Two Monks Bowing," Abbaye de Solesmes, France, 1979, chalks on paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.  Stanley Roseman
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, "Father Augustine in Choir," 1983, Trappist Abbey of Mellifont, Ireland, chalks on paper, Dallas Museum of Art.  Stanley Roseman
Painting by Stanley Roseman, "Dom Henry, Portrait of a Benedictine Monk," St. Augustine's Abbey, England, 1978, oil on canvas, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rouen.  Stanley Roseman
    "By the late sixth century, monasteries were flourishing in Gaul, on the Italian peninsula, and in the British Isles. Irish monks brought the ascetic practices and scholarly pursuits of Celtic monasticism to the Continent as other contemplatives ventured northward from Italy and crossed the English Channel. . . . Many monasteries in the Middle Ages were intellectual centers of renown.[2] . . ."
     Pope John Paul II warmly received Stanley Roseman and Ronald Davis at the Vatican on March 21, the feast day of St. Benedict of Nursia.
     The Polish Pope was in the first six months of his pontificate in 1979 and had not yet returned to his homeland. Acutely aware of the difficulty for those outside the Eastern Bloc Countries to obtain the necessary entry visas as well as to travel on their own behind the then Iron Curtain, Pope John Paul expressed his appreciation to Roseman and Davis for their having made the journey to Poland.
     Roseman and Davis presented the Pope with a gift of the artist's beautiful drawing Brother Florian Playing the Recorder from the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec, near Krakow. Pope John Paul had been Archbishop of Krakow before his election as Pope.
     Roseman's chalk drawing on gray paper of Brother Florian, with fine facial features, dark hair, and beard,  portrays the young Polish monk absorbed in his music.
     Heartily shaking Roseman's hand, Pope John Paul II said he was ''deeply moved'' by Roseman's paintings and drawings, a selection of which he previously had seen in photographs prior to his meeting the artist, as well as from the gift of the drawing that Roseman presented to the Pontiff. Pope John Paul, who had a personal interest in the arts from the days of his youth, greatly encouraged Roseman in his work.
     Reaffirming what the Abbot Primate wrote, Pope John Paul praised Roseman as "a great artist" and expressed his admiration for the scope and spiritual depth of his work on the monastic life. The saintly Pope took hold of Roseman's arm as they spoke and said:
     The portrait of Sister Immaculata and a portrait of a Benedictine monk from the Abbey of Fleury in France were acquired in 1986 by the Teyler Museum, in Haarlem. The acquisition in 1986 was the first of several acquisitions by the museum over the following years of Roseman's drawings on different subjects, including the dance at the Paris Opéra. (See the website page "On Drawing and the Dance," Page 2 - "The Male Dancer.") The Teyler Museum is renowned for its collection of master drawings from the Italian Renaissance, including sheets by Michelangelo and Raphael, and from the seventeenth-century Dutch school, notably drawings by Rembrandt.
Stanley Roseman drawing a Belgian Trappist monk in the kitchen. Photo  Ronald Davis
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, "Two Monks Bowing," Abbaye de Solesmes, France, 1979, chalks on paper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.  Stanley Roseman
     The eminent Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Jean Prou, writes in his gracious letter, dated July 7th 1980, to Stanley Roseman and his colleague Ronald Davis:

     "Thank you for having sent me a copy of the article from 'The Times' that relates your  monastic and artistic tour; I see there that Solesmes has a good place. Be assured that you also have a good place in my prayers, and I often ask God to shower you with His favors.
+ Fr. Jean Prou
   Abbot of Solesmes
     "Please know, dear friends, of my sincere remembrances in the Lord."
- Bibliothèque Nationale de France
- The Times, London
- The Boston Globe
Drawing by Stanley Roseman, "Sister Immaculata," St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Ireland, 1983, Teylers Museum, Haarlem.  Stanley Roseman
At the entrance to the Albertina, Vienna, the column displaying the posters announcing the museum's exhibitions "Raphael in der Albertina" and "Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klostern," 1983. Photo  Ronald Davis
Entrance to the Albertina (right), Vienna. Column with posters announcing the museum's exhibitions "Raphael in der Albertina," and "Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klostern," 1983. Photo  Ronald Davis
Albertina poster announcing the exhibition "Stanley Roseman - Zeichnungen aus Klostern," 1983. The poster features the artist's chalk drawing in the Albertina collection, "Brother Thijs in the Library," St. Adelbert Abbey, The Netherlands,
1. The quoted excerpts are from a text Roseman has written on monastic life and his work in monasteries to accompany his paintings and drawings.
    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.''
2. Charles Homer Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1927), pp. 32, 33.
3. 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. 11.
4. New Oxford History of Music, Vol. II, " Early Medieval Music up to 1300,'' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954), pp. 290-292.
Pope Saint John Paul II receiving Stanley Roseman (center) and Ronald Davis at the Vatican, 1979.
Pope Saint John Paul II receiving a gift of the drawing "Brother Florian Playing the Recorder," Tyniec Abbey, Poland, from the artist Stanley Roseman and his colleague Ronald Davis, Vatican, 1979.
Page 6  -  The Monastic Life
Biography: Page 6
     Monks and books have an association going back for centuries. From the sixth to the twelfth century, monastic scriptoria produced most of the books in the West, on both religious and secular subjects, and scholarship and literary work became an important part of Benedictine monasticism.
     A selection of Roseman's portraits from the monastic world is presented on the next page. The collections are shown in the following order: Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Belgium; Musée Ingres, Montauban; Teylers Museum, Haarlem; Victoria and Albert Museun, London; Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; British Museum, London; and the Albertina, Vienna. (See link below).
The Monastic Life continues on the following page: Portraits from the Monastic World