Image: Still Life with Quince, Cabbage, Melon, and Cucumber by Juan Sánchez Cotán (1602). Oil on canvas.
On Saturdays, we like to focus on a piece of art, and recently we have been focusing on still life paintings. Though the Netherlands was the focal point of the movement in the 16th and 17th century, there were notable example outside that area. This week we found one such example. The Spanish painter Juan Sánchez Cotán, who worked in and around Toledo.
A devout man, he closed his workshop, and went to live as monk in 1604. Before then, however, he painting some of the most striking still-life paintings that are almost modern in their sensibility.
This painting is currently in the holdings of the San Diego Museum of Art. Sánchez Cotán called these kind of paintings a bodegón, derived from the word bodega or pantry. It is as if he is going into the stores and selecting items to display rather than capturing a moment in time. In contrast to the northern paintings of abundance or toppling items, this work is more geometric and spaced as if on a ballet stage, or maybe across the solar system.
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