Do Espírito do Lugar - Música, Estética, Silêncio, Espaço, Luz| ,
2. S. Bento de Cástris e a estética musical contra-reformista
A pintura “A Adoração dos Pastores com Anjos Músicos”, atribuída ao pintor Maneirista Eborense Francisco João, data do final do século XVI. Está actualmente em exposição no Museu de Évora, e foi objeto de alguma atenção no contexto da Segunda Residência Cisterciense, Évora 2014. Esta pintura, composta por dois temas unidos, um inferior e outro superior, foi encarada como um caso de estudo adequado ao trabalho interdisciplinar para a interpretação correta de património cultural. Enquanto a forma e o estado de conservação levantam algumas questões que podem ser relevantes para o conservador-restaurador, na parte superior do quadro, os instrumentos tocados pelos anjos, levam a perguntas no contexto organologia. Estas duas perspectivas – conservação e organologia - serão discutidas na presente comunicação, por meio do diálogo entre estas duas disciplinas. O diálogo está estruturado através de uma abordagem baseada em imagens e na sua relação com outra documentação histórica.
The painting “The Adoration of the Shepherds with Angel Musicians”, attributed to a Mannerist painter from Évora, Francisco João, dates from the end of the 16th century. It is currently on display at the Museum of Évora, and was the object of some attention within the context of Cistercian Residence II, Évora, 2014. This painting, which is composed of two main horizontal subjects sections, is considered for the purpose of this paper as a case study for interdisciplinary work in order to determine a suitable interpretation within the field of cultural heritage. While its overall physical form and condition raise some questions that may be relevant to the conservator-restorer, the upper portion of the painting, which depicts musical instruments played by angels, raises questions for the organologist. These two perspectives – conservation and organology – will be brought into dialogue with each other throughout this article. The dialogue is structured by considering images from the painting and their relationship with extant pieces of historical documentation.
This study is part of the Project Projecto ORFEUS FCT EXPL/EPH-PAT/2253/2013, A Reforma tridentina e a música no silêncio claustral: o mosteiro de S. Bento de Cástris”, funded by FCT/MEC and co-funded by pelo Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER) through the program COMPETE - Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade (POFC) and QREN.
Agradecimentos: Maria Antónia Marques Fialho Conde, Universidade de Évora, Ana Maria Tavares Martins, Universidade da Beira Interior, Margarida Maria Margarida Sá Nogueira Lalanda, Universidade dos Açores, Elisa Lessa, Universidade do Minho, Vanda de Sá, Universidade de Évora, Isabel Cid, former Director of Arquivo Distrital de Évora e da Biblioteca Pública de Évora, Filipe Mesquita de Oliveira, Universidade de Évora, António Marques and Luís Henriques, Research Scholars, Universidade de Évora. Maria do Céu Dez-Réis Grilo, Museu de Évora. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ana Paula Tudela, Milene Gil, Laboratório Hércules, Universidade de Évora, Évora, Christine Linsenmeyer, Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, Royal College of Music, and Mimi Haddon, Royal College of Music.
- 1 DUARTE, Sónia Maria da Silva, O contributo da iconografia musical na pintura quinhentista portugues (...)
- 2 Caetano, Joaquim, Museu de Évora, Ficha de Inventário, ME 18352. www.matriznet.dgpc.pt/MatrizNet/. (...)
1The painting “Adoration of the Shepherds with Angel Musicians” (see Fig. 1) dates from approximately 1580-15901 and is attributed to Francisco João (d.1595)2. It is currently on display at the Museu de Évora. The painting shows two major horizontal sections: at the top is a group of angels playing musical instruments and singing, and the bottom part represents a scene from the Scriptures, the Adoration of the Shepherds. It is a large oil painting on wood, about 299cm high by 235cm wide.
- 3 For further information see CONDE, Maria Antónia Fialho Costa Conde, “O Sentido do Tempo num Espaço (...)
- 4 GRILO, Maria do Céu Dez-Réis, Museum of Évora, private communication in September 2014.
2This painting was found in 2008 in Évora at the Monastery of St. Benedict of Cástris, a female Monastery active from the 13th- until the 19th century3. Music played a central and even hierarchical role at this monastery. By a decree of the government in the 19th century, this monastery would close at the death of the last living nun, which occurred in 1890. Subsequently, the building was assigned other functions, including becoming an orphanage. In 2005, the building was abandoned and many of the artworks were stolen or vandalized. This painting was rescued by a team from the Museum of Évora, led by Joaquim Oliveira Caetano, and brought to the Museum of Évora in July 30, 2008. It underwent conservation sometime before being displayed at the Museum that same year4.
3The painting poses two immediate questions. The first is based on the visual aspect of the composition and relates to some visual discontinuity between the two parts. The second question relates to the musical instruments played by the angels: are they representative of the 16th century musical practices at the Monastery of St. Benedict of Cástris?
Fig 1 - The Adoration of the Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, ME 18352.
Images courtesy of Museu de Évora and Matriznet (www.matriznet.pt).
4Unfortunately, the author did not have access to information regarding the exact location of the painting while it was on display at the monastery. Before any assumption is made, then, an exercise of observation and careful measuring should be performed in order to determine the space in which the object would fit.
5There is a poor connection between the compositions represented on the two horizontal parts that constitute the painting, both before and after conservation. The wood branch on the left, for example, makes us question the continuity of the painting. The unnatural cut of the upper edge of the painting, rounding the top corners and clipping part of the composition also raises questions about the original composition. Nevertheless, the angel on the top left playing an instrument is staged in a very uncomfortable position, which seems to accompany the shape of the painting.
6Conversely, it is quite different from the right edge, where both angel and instrument are incomplete.
- 5 Dias dos Santos, Helena Ferreira Pinto Pinheiro de Melo, O Pintor Francisco João (Act. 1563-1595), (...)
- 6 Idem, 200.
- 7 Idem, 244.
7In her intensive and detailed study of the works of, or attributed to, Francisco João, Helena Dias dos Santos (Dias dos Santos, 2012) points out some interesting facts5. This is one of the five panels, out of 56 paintings where the different planks are attached horizontally6, which would make it easy to say that one part had been added or removed. However, further information certainly contradicts this possibility: “This panel is the only one that shows, from the front side, below the preparatory layer, strips of canvas glued along all the joints. These strips are about 5cm wide (…). This is typical of the Spanish tradition.”7 According to Dias dos Santos (2012) this panel also shows fibers on the reverse, as well as orange colored paint. The only possibility of being a later alteration is if these strips of canvas showed some interruption or if the use of two panels had been already the result of a change of mind of the painter.
8Unfortunately, although justified because of alterations to its original condition, certain material analyses of other paintings weren’t performed on this one, including wood identification of the support, whether oak or chestnut were used. The orientation of the wood planks could be due to the large size of the panel, the second largest of 56, or to a preference of the carpenter.
9The top part of the painting includes two groups of angels: a larger higher group and a smaller, lower one. The upper group comprises eight angels. Of these eight angels, five are holding and playing musical instruments, and a sixth angel holds a music score. This larger group of angels is more visible than the second, smaller group of angels below them. On this lower second level, there are nine angels, more or less complete, smaller, and floating among clouds. Above the top group, rays of divine light are partially visible.
10Significant differences can be found when comparing the painting as it is now, after conservation, with an image taken before conservation (sometime prior to 2008). An overpaint layer was added to conceal the seam between the top and the bottom parts of the painting, camouflaging the lack of continuity between the two horizontal sections. One change is particularly visible with the central instrument, the viol. The image taken before conservation shows a round, central-rosette sound hole and a different tailpiece than the current image. An analysis of the materials used to repaint the work, especially in this particular area, would be useful in attempting to date these alterations.
- 8 Although this engraving is not the ideal example, due to a complete different provenance, I decided (...)
11Once the overpaint layers were removed, another head appeared behind the musical angels. It is of a darker shade, immediately below the rays of divine light; it is equally invisible in the pre-conservation image. The interpretation of a Biblical theme topped by angel musicians, occupying a fairly large area of the image, was not new in the sixteenth century. The engraving “The Baptism of Christ” (1590, Amsterdam), by Jan Harmenszoon Muller (b.1571- d.1628), is an example (see Fig. 2). In the lower section of the image, the baptism of Christ is represented; the upper area depicts a larger (and possibly older) group of angels than the João painting. These angels are also musicians; they are playing musical instruments and are surrounded by other, smaller angels. They all are placed around the rays of divine light, which are slightly off-centre, surrounding the name of God in Hebrew8.
Fig 2 - The Baptism of Christ, Jan Harmenszoon Muller, 1590, engraving, (320 x 215 mm)
- 9 I would like to thank Ana Paula Tudela for consulting the inventories and communicating this inform (...)
12The inventories of 1858 and 1890 do not explicitly include references to this painting9. This is certainly a curious fact; given its large dimensions, one would expect it to be noticed. The inventory from 1858 lists 8 paintings in the church, and gives additional detail: “there are four panels on canvas and 4 wood. The wood panels are listed according to the themes represented and the values attributed to them:
13Eleven thousand virgins – 12$000 / The Birth of the Baptist – 60$000 / Our Lady of Conception – 16$000 / Annunciation - 4$000
14On the inventory completed on 12 of June 1890, by José Ponce Martins, the accession numbers 163-171 correspond to “9 paintings that adorn the walls of the Church”.
15This same inventory of 1890 also refers to 6 panels in the Low Choir room. The support, whether canvas or wood, is not specified, although one panel is described as the “Lady and the Child”, a theme that closely approximates the Adoration of the Shepherds. A painting in the form of a semi-circle is mentioned, but on a canvas, representing “St. Benedict, St. Bernard and Mary Mother of God”, displayed in the Rosary Chapel.
16There were four other paintings on canvas in the Sacristy, representing the “Annunciation, Birth, Circumcision, and Adoration of the Magi – 24$000”. The numbers 1054-1057, correspond to “1 painting on wood and 3 on canvas, all in poor condition”.
- 10 CONDE, “O Sentido do Tempo num Espaço Conventual, São Bento de Cátris”, Évora, 1996-1997, pp. 265-2 (...)
17Regardless of whether the Francisco João painting is a single painting or two separate ones, the Cástris inventories do not refer to the “Adoration of the Shepherds” nor any musician angels. During the 18th century the monastery underwent a dramatic change. Large tile panels were placed on the walls, and the altarpiece was rebuilt from carved and gilded wood10. Curiously, one of these panels presents the same theme as the painting.
18From left to right, the instruments depicted include: a plucked-string instrument with a pear-shaped body and an apparently rounded back; a wind instrument with a thin body; (at centre) a bowed string instrument; a harp; and (at extreme right) another stringed instrument, likely bowed. The last instrument has been mutilated due to the rounded corners of the painting.
19The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw great changes in musical instrument forms and performance practices. This period saw the emergence of consorts of instruments, that is, ensembles including different sizes of instruments of the same family, sounding separate voices. The same applies for ‘broken consorts’, that is, ensembles comprising instruments from different families. The case of this painting is typical of other iconographical examples of musical instruments, in that it lacks organological realism, detail and preciseness. We can see that the instruments neither depict faithful representations of historical instruments, nor do they represent much of musical practice. Additionally, the conservation-related alterations may have further decreased relevant detail.
20The plucked string instrument on the left has some characteristics of a lute: a bowl back, a round sound hole in the flat top, covered by a carved out rosette, and the strings attached to the bridge. However, this instrument also has a leaf-shaped head with the pegs apparently inserted from the front, neither of which is typical for lutes. Instead, this type of head shape and peg structure is more common to the cittern, as seen at the Royal College of Music (RCM 48), instrument by Girolamo Campi (fl.c1580).
Fig 3 - The Adoration of The Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, Adoração dos Pastores com Anjos Músicos, ME 18352. Detail of the instruments on the left
Images by Susana Caldeira, September 2014
21At first glance, the second instrument, with its curved conical shape, looks very much like a cornett, with finger holes, a slightly flared bell and a sideways playing technique - played out of the side of the mouth but not transversely. A closer look reveals the possibility of a double reed, like the shawm, rather than a cupped mouthpiece, but this was likely the result of the painter not having a good representation or a real instrument for a model.
- 11 WOODFIELD, Jan, The Early History of The Viol, Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 66-67, 75.
22The bowed string instrument at the centre of the painting resembles a vihuela de arco (see Fig. 4, image 1). Instead of the typical c-, f- or flame-shaped sound holes typical of viols, this instrument has a central rose. The strings are hitched to a tailpiece that is attached to the soundboard (like a guitar bridge); the strings then pass over the top of a curved, but rather flat, bridge. Thus, this instrument appears to be a mix of a five-string vihuela (vihuela de mano) but played with a bow. There are some organological errors, for instance, the interruption of the strings, which may be due to subsequent alterations of the painting. The angel’s left hand is holding the volute, instead of being positioned on top of the fingerboard. No frets can be seen. Here we can observe a hesitation of the painter or an alteration of the painting – the ribs are shallow and the waist very thin. These characteristics would place it among viols of the Valencian school, the vihuela d’arco, which is large and played against the leg11.
- 12 VERÃO, Teresa, “Os Azulejos do Mosteiro de São Bento de Cástris de Évora”, Cenáculo Boletim on Line (...)
23The most characteristic form of the viol, with its deep ribs, and sloping shoulders with c-shaped middle bout, appeared early in the 16th century. They became fairly standard during the 17th and 18th centuries, but certainly there were still vihuelas in use in Portugal and Spain. The overpaint visible on the image before treatment (see image on the right in fig. 1), already reflects the definition of these standards12, and there is a visible intention of making the instrument look like a viola da gamba.
24The harp (framed harp) in this painting is the easiest instrument to identify. But it is also the instrument that presents the most evident technical mistakes. A framed harp consists of a resonator, a neck and a forepillar. The strings run from iron pegs inserted on the neck to the resonator, which are often hitched to it through small pins. In this case, the strings, apparently 9, do not run to the resonator, instead they are parallel to it (see Fig. 4, Image 3). Considering the surviving examples, a harp of this period could be around 100cm long, and could have about 26 strings, in one row.
25The resonator could be made of a carved piece of wood, topped with a soundboard, possibly decorated with carved rosettes. In this case the body of the instrument is deeper than expected. The neck is curved inwards, and not as slim as expected. The forepillar is visibly extended upwards, as a result of augmenting the space for accommodating longer strings at the bass. Also, the finial shows a scroll. This feature starts to be visible in iconography from the 14th century on. As the harp develops further, the resonator also extends towards the lower end. The forepillar tends to be less curved outwards as well.
26During the 15th century, harps no longer had the neck attached to the treble end of the resonator, and a shank would connect both parts. Both finials (chank and forepillar) were topped with decorative elements; in this case a scroll is visible. Although no soundboard pins exist in this painting, it is worth noting this was the time when bray pins were used. These are almost right angled pieces of wood that hitch the strings through holes to the soundboard, but also have a protruding edge against which the strings vibrate, creating a buzzing sound.
27A curious feature is the way the left hand (if originally intended to be like that) works on the strings, as if it was stopping the strings with the thumb near the neck, raising the pitch. The harp was frequently played in religious contexts, especially when there was also an organ part.
- 13 WOODFIELD, The Early History of The Viol, p. 66-67, plate 44.
28The last instrument, another bowed stringed one, has at least five strings attached to the soundboard (see Fig. 4, Image 3) over a bridge, as with the lute at the left. This instrument has a curved outline, and features expected on an instrument intended to be plucked, like the vihuela da mano or the guitar. Meanwhile, it also has characteristics of a cornered instrument. In the painting, this instrument is played downwards with a bow. The condition of the painted surface does not make it very clear, but there is a black element, which resembles the same depiction of motion as with the bow depicted with the large viol. Again, this instrument has some similarities to a viol held by an angel in a painting from the Valencian school, early 16th century (see Fig. 4, Image 2 at centre)13.
29Viola d’arco was the term used to describe the viola de mano, but played with a bow (arco) instead of plucked. Viola d’arco, or the Spanish term vihuela d’arco, is also a name or variation of the fiddle – any stringed instrument played with a bow.
30The name fiddle can be used here as a very generic term to refer to a bowed chordophone. Furthermore, this painting is from a period (ca. 1590) when bowed instruments of unclear form coexisted with already more standardized ones, either from the family of the viol or the violin.
Fig 4 - Images 1 and 3 – The Adoration of The Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, ME 18352
Images by Susana Caldeira, September 2014. Image 2 (at centre) – viol held by an angel, on a painting from the Valencian school, early 16th century. Private collection. Image courtesy of Woodfield, 1984, plate 44.
Instruments used in Cástris: does this painting reflect some of the realities of instrument playing at the Cástris monastery ?
- 14 Projecto ORFEUS FCT EXPL/EPH-PAT/2253/2013 - A Reforma tridentina e a música no silêncio claustral: (...)
31Thanks to the Orfeus project, we now know more details about the musical practices in the Monastery in Cástris14. The documentation, studied as part of the ‘ORFEUS’ project, includesd the endowments from the monastery’s nuns and gives us some indications of the instruments used from 1597 until 1830. Given the possible date of this painting (late 16th century), the earlier documents are the most relevant.
- 15 Biblioteca Pública de Évora: Códices CXXXI/2-1, CXXXI/2-2, CXXXI/2-3, CXXXI/2-4 e CXXXI/2-27; Livro (...)
- 16 Ibidem.
- 17 “Lisbon’s trumpet corps (‘charamela real’) consisted of 24 trumpeters and four kettledrum players”. (...)
32The documents state that there was a musician in Évora, F. Carvalho, who was endowed by a contract and played the charamela15, which could be an instrument with similar characteristics to the shawm, a period woodwind instrument with a double reed. (The Spanish terms chirimia, xirimia, or the Italian ciaramella16 refer more to the shawm than the Portuguese word itself charamela, as it appears in the 18th century and refers to charamela real17.)
33In 1610 a reference related to a keyboard player appears, and refers to Sebastiana de Gouveia, one of the nuns. The harp is first mentioned in 1609, in reference to two nuns, the sisters Clara de Santo António and Isabel de Jesus. This same endowment makes reference to the baixão, an instrument they played, which is likely an instrument close to the bassoon.
34In 1660, the viola d’arco appears in reference to Isabel and Maria Moreira, two sisters, who were both singers and viola d’arco players. At this date, the viola d’arco could either be the viola, of the violin family, or an instrument of the same family as the vihuela da mano, but played with a bow (rather than plucked).
- 18 KYROVA, Christ’s baptism, p. 57.
35Unfortunately, due to distance constraints, the author did not have much of a chance to see if other paintings by Francisco João show other examples of instruments, neither was there chance to follow up other research about models used at this time by the Portuguese painters. The angel concert of the “Adoration of The Shepherds” is probably one more example of many in which “practically any sort of instrument was acceptable to an angel and at the same time such ensembles did not reflect any earthly musical practice”18.
36While we cannot deny the connection between the instruments intended to be represented in the painting and instruments played in Cástris, this could also have been a coincidence. The lack of the presence of a keyboard instrument is somewhat interesting if one really wants to push for a relation here; the first references to keyboard players appear only in 1610. However, one should remain sceptical until other documents prove this painting was commissioned for Cástris, especially because nothing is found in the inventories.
37There are also questions that need to be answered by further scientific analysis, including critical areas of the alteration of the instruments represented. The dialogue between the two disciplines, conservation and organology, has thus opened doors to further discussions and to a more assertive approach. We can go further and include musical iconography and art history. As a conservator of musical instruments looking at this specific painting, the intersection of conservation and organology is a productive site for questions and dialogue. This case study therefore suggests a way forward to learn more and find new bridges between multiple disciplines, and to aid in the search for specific documents that can hopefully lead us to the unequivocal.
1 DUARTE, Sónia Maria da Silva, O contributo da iconografia musical na pintura quinhentista portuguesa, luso-flamenga e flamenga em Portugal, para o reconhecimento das práticas musicais da época: fontes e modelos utilizados nas oficinas de pintura, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, September 2011, Vol. II, p. 105.
2 Caetano, Joaquim, Museu de Évora, Ficha de Inventário, ME 18352. www.matriznet.dgpc.pt/MatrizNet/. Consulted in October, 12, 2014.
3 For further information see CONDE, Maria Antónia Fialho Costa Conde, “O Sentido do Tempo num Espaço Conventual, São Bento de Cátris”, Évora, 1996-1997, pp. 259-283.
4 GRILO, Maria do Céu Dez-Réis, Museum of Évora, private communication in September 2014.
5 Dias dos Santos, Helena Ferreira Pinto Pinheiro de Melo, O Pintor Francisco João (Act. 1563-1595), Materiais e técnicas na pintura de cavalete em Évora na segunda metade do século XVI, Escola das Artes, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Porto, Outubro 2012.
6 Idem, 200.
7 Idem, 244.
8 Although this engraving is not the ideal example, due to a complete different provenance, I decided to use it here as an example of similar composition. Not excluding the fact that these could have been circulating in Portugal and Spain.
9 I would like to thank Ana Paula Tudela for consulting the inventories and communicating this information to me. Without her help it would have been impossible for me to attain this information.
10 CONDE, “O Sentido do Tempo num Espaço Conventual, São Bento de Cátris”, Évora, 1996-1997, pp. 265-266. See also TERENO, Maria do Céu Simões, PEREIRA, Marízia M. D., MONTEIRO, Maria Filomena, “Mosteiro de S. Bento de Cástris – que futuro para este património?”, Congresso Internacional Mosteiros Cistercienses, Passado, Presente, Futuro, Alcobaça, 14 a 17 de Junho de 2012, p. 6. http://www.academia.edu/7946218/, consulted on January 13, 2015.
11 WOODFIELD, Jan, The Early History of The Viol, Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 66-67, 75.
12 VERÃO, Teresa, “Os Azulejos do Mosteiro de São Bento de Cástris de Évora”, Cenáculo Boletim on Line, Museu de Évora, n. 4, October 2010, pp. 3-14. http://museudevora.imc.ip.pt. Accessed January 13, 2015.
13 WOODFIELD, The Early History of The Viol, p. 66-67, plate 44.
14 Projecto ORFEUS FCT EXPL/EPH-PAT/2253/2013 - A Reforma tridentina e a música no silêncio claustral: o mosteiro de S. Bento de Cástris.
15 Biblioteca Pública de Évora: Códices CXXXI/2-1, CXXXI/2-2, CXXXI/2-3, CXXXI/2-4 e CXXXI/2-27; Livros 7, 10, 17 e 20 do Fundo de S. Bento de Cástris. Arquivo Distrital de Évora: Notarial 827 Évora
17 “Lisbon’s trumpet corps (‘charamela real’) consisted of 24 trumpeters and four kettledrum players”. See SARKISSIAN Margaret, TARR, Edward, "Trumpet." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 14, 2015, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/49912
18 KYROVA, Christ’s baptism, p. 57.
List of illustrations
|Title||Fig 1 - The Adoration of the Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, ME 18352.|
|Credits||Images courtesy of Museu de Évora and Matriznet (www.matriznet.pt).|
|Title||Fig 2 - The Baptism of Christ, Jan Harmenszoon Muller, 1590, engraving, (320 x 215 mm)|
|Title||Fig 3 - The Adoration of The Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, Adoração dos Pastores com Anjos Músicos, ME 18352. Detail of the instruments on the left|
|Credits||Images by Susana Caldeira, September 2014|
|Title||Fig 4 - Images 1 and 3 – The Adoration of The Shepherds with Angel Musicians, Museu de Évora, ME 18352|
|Credits||Images by Susana Caldeira, September 2014. Image 2 (at centre) – viol held by an angel, on a painting from the Valencian school, early 16th century. Private collection. Image courtesy of Woodfield, 1984, plate 44.|
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