Verbeelding en ontbeelding. Een onderzoek naar de functie van kunst in Nederlandse kartuizerkloosters (1450-1550)
Verbeelding en ontbeelding. Een onderzoek naar de functie van kunst in Nederlandse kartuizerkloosters (1450-1550), Doctoral Thesis, Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities, 2010, 275 p., 104 ill.
Proefschrift Universiteit Leiden 2010.
How did contemporaries bring the presence of art in late medieval Netherlandish charterhouses in harmony with the austere way of living and the inward spirituality of the carthusians? That is the central question of this thesis. In the twelfth century this matter was already raised by Bernard of Clairvaux. Significantly, the monastic rule of the carthusians shows an aversion to outward finery and distracting images. Objects that are made of precious materials like gold and precious stones seem incompatible with the simplicity and austerity of the carthusians. Such objects reflect the outward and the physical, while the carthusians are focused on the inward and the spiritual to stimulate their receptivity for an inner union with Christ. However, in the late Middle Ages such art objects found their way into the carthusian monasteries in the Low Countries. This paradox is analysed by means of a discussion of seven exemplary surviving works of art. These case studies demonstrate that the presence of paintings was not necessarily experienced as distracting by the carthusians. The paintings were situated in the private areas of Netherlandish carthusian monasteries where they fulfilled a function which was deeply rooted in the strict devotional practice of the carthusians.