Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560-1627)
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Juan Sánchez Cotán was a Spanish painter during the Baroque period. Cotán is known for hyper-realistic still lifes, also referred to as 'bodegónes'. Cotán's life began in the village of Orgaz, in the vicinity of Toledo, Spain. Cotán was an acquaintance of Blas de Prado, also known for his realistic still life paintings.
Cotán spent many of his adult years work as an altarpiece artisan in Toledo. Cotán worked for the Spanish aristocracy, painting various religious pieces for the church. Cotán gained experience with portraits, genre paintings and religious iconography.
Cotán shut down his Toledo workshop in 1603 to enter the Carthusian monastery, Santa Maria de El Paular. While religion and mysticism became the main focus of Cotán's life, he continued to make religious paintings.
In 1612 Cotán relocated to the Granada Charterhouse, and soon decided to enter the Carthusian monastery of Granada. Cotán's ambition was to become a monk. Many of his paintings in Granada depicted the prosecution of monks by English Protestants.
Though Cotán spent many years making religious paintings, they never received acknowledgment or praise in comparison to his still life paintings. Cotán's still life paintings are few in number, and rare to encounter. The still lifes are considered to be part of the golden age of painting in Spain, and some of the first examples of 'Tenebrism' (dramatic lighting). Cotán would paint extremely dark backgrounds with illuminated fruits and vegetables as well as fish and fowl.
Cotán's style of still-life painting became a model for other Spanish artists, who referred to the still lifes as 'bodegónes' (containing mostly vegetables). The focus on painting vegetables may be related to the Carthusian, vegetarian diet.
Many of Cotán's paintings now belong to Prado collection in Madrid, as well as major international collections. Cotán's paintings changed the course of still life painting in Spain and throughout Europe. Do you think you own a painting by Juan Sánchez Cotán? Contact us. We are the Juan Sánchez Cotán experts.