Vicente Carducho

Datesborn Italy, about 1576 - 1638
BornFlorence, Italy
DiedMadrid, Spain

Florentine by birth, Vicente Carducho arrived in Spain in 1585 with his brother Bartolomé, who participated in decorating King Philip II's Escorial palace. As apprentice to his brother, Carducho was steeped in the classical Italian tradition: his paintings featured careful drawing, smooth surfaces, and classicizing compositions. In 1609 Vicente succeeded his brother as royal painter, a position he kept for life. After Diego Velázquez arrived in 1623, however, Carducho and other court painters often found themselves overshadowed by the young genius.

Carducho primarily painted religious subjects. In 1632 he completed Europe's most extended cycle of monastic paintings: fifty-six influential canvases illustrating the lives of Saint Bruno and other Carthusians for a Carthusian monastery near Segovia. Carducho may be most recognized for his contributions to Spanish art theory. His Diálogos de la Pintura of 1633 championed Michelangelo and the Italian classical tradition while defending painting as a noble pursuit. The artist, wrote Carducho, is a learned humanist, not just a craftsman; painters should uplift people morally. In attacking Caravaggio's new dramatic realism and its "external copying of nature," Carducho called him a "monster of genius and talent," "Anti-Michelangelo" and "Anti-Christ."