In 1388 Philip the Bold commissioned Beaumetz to paint devotional panels for each of the cells at Champmol near Dijon. Like the monk kneeling before the cross, the twenty-four Carthusians at Champmol prayed perpetually for the repose of the duke's soul. Incised on the gold ground of the picture, as if growing up from the cross are the branches, leaves, and blossoms of a tree. This luxuriant growth symbolizes Christ as the source of eternal life.
Carthusians are one of the strictest monastic orders, renowned for their piety and simplicity. Carthusians live in a solitary like of prayer and study within the confines of their cells. The monks pray together only three times a day. This gilded panel would have been the sole ornament of the simple cell in which a monk would have spent most of his life.
The picture is one of the 26 panels.
Two paintings of the series survived, their themes being identical: a Carthusian monk is praying below the cross of Christ.
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund.