Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Charterhouse of Pisa

The Charterhouse of Pisa is more properly called the Charterhouse of Calci. It stands 10km outside Pisa in the Val Graziosa outside the town of Calci.

No longer used as a Carthusian monastery, it is now a museum under the superintendence of the University of Pisa.

The monastery was founded in May 1366 by the then Archbishop of Pisa. The present buildings date from the 17th century. The architecture and decoration are Baroque.

The monastery complex is one of the largest in Tuscany.

It was suppressed in 1808 by Napoleon. Some Carthusian monks later returned. However the last monk left in 1972.

The paintings in the refectory are by the now under-rated artist, Bernardino Poccetti, also known as Barbatelli, (26 August 1548- 10 October 1612).

Poccetti became one of the premier practitioners of reformist narrative painting: a "Reformer" in the sense of reform after the Council of Trent. He achieved the combination of delectare, docere, movere ('to delight, to teach, to move') which Catholic churchmen were calling for in religious painting at the time.

Poccetti spent most of the 1590s working for various Carthusian houses, including the Certosa of Galluzzo (near Florence), the Certosa of Pontignano (Siena), and the Certosa of Calci (Pisa).

He is perhaps best known for his frescoes in the cloister and church of the Confraternity of the SS Annunziata (in Florence), including a Marian cycle for the church, a Passion cycle for the vestibule, and a large-scale martyrdom cycle in the cloister.

"Poccetti's style 'is differentiated by the tranquillity of his more contemplative interpretation of the Counter-Reformation message'. This characteristic accords with the favour Poccetti found with the Carthusians - a preeminently ascetic and contemplative order - his also receiving commissions for the Charterhouses of Pisa and Sienna. " (Nicholas Turner, 'Florentine Drawings of the Sixteenth Century', 1986, p. 243)