With the generous support of the ARTES-CEEH PhD Scholarship, I conducted a research trip to Madrid in September 2022. This informed my work on the methods and materials of the Spanish scholar-artist Vicente Carducho (c. 1576-1638), whose Self Portrait (c.1633-38) and treatise Diálogos de la Pintura (1633) are at the core of my PhD thesis. The primary objectives of this trip were to study key works from Carducho’s oeuvre and to review the records of past technical studies of his paintings at the Museo del Prado.
Prior to visiting Madrid I had seen only a handful of paintings and drawings by Carducho, whose treatise and Self Portrait I’ve come to know well over the past few years. On this research trip I encountered dozens of his works in and around his adoptive patria, dramatically expanding my experience of studying his work in-person.
Among the many Carducho paintings I accessed, I was most excited to see another portrait of the artist held in a private collection. Beyond the clear similarities that exist between the portraits, the precise relationship between them is difficult to discern. Although the Madrid portraithas not undergone technical analysis, there is much to learn from studying its support and paint surface, which I will compare with the observations and results from my study of the Glasgow Self Portrait. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to take a close look at this very familiar face.
Of the paintings I consulted in-situ in churches, convents, and monasteries, Carducho’s Carthusian series (1624-32) for the Monasterio de Santa Maria de El Paular in Rascafría proved especially striking. The Prado conducted technical analyses on a selection of paint samples from the series during the early-mid 2000s, and I have pored over high resolution images of these works in recent years. However, seeing these large-scale paintings (nearly 3.4m x 3m each!) together in the cloister really put this commission into perspective. Consideration of the physicality of these works, as well as the practical realities of their commission and completion, will inform my interpretation of their technical studies relative to the likes of Self Portrait.
Complementary to studying Carducho’s paintings was reviewing records from previous technical examinations of his works. For this I received permission to visit the Gabinete Técnico of the Museo del Prado, where I studied a selection of records from historical studies of paintings by Carducho and his peers. Given the comparatively small number of technical studies of Carducho’s paintings, it will be extremely insightful to compare my own results with data from his other paintings and to further contextualise his working practice amid that of his contemporaries in Madrid.
I am very grateful ARTES and CEEH for their support of my research. I was presented this PhD Scholarship in the early weeks of the first lockdown of 2020, and I had no idea if or when it would be possible to reschedule my travel plans. Indeed, re-planning this trip proved to be quite a moving target, and I am indebted to each person who helped make it possible. My endeavours in Madrid helped me to gain a fresh perspective on the place of Self Portrait within Carducho’s oeuvre and a host of ideas to incorporate into my thesis.