This is a very beautiful still life, a genre of painting that portrays food and everyday objects, and which is so ancient that it even appears in Roman mural paintings. Sanchez Cotán elevated it to the status of genius.
Born in Toledo, the artist was a Carthusian monk at the Charterhouse in Granada. It was one of the strictest religious orders, and this can be seen in his work, as it was his custom to portray in his still lives the foodstuffs that were part of his strict and limited diet, such as fruit and vegetables.
Sanchez Cotan was one of the earliest Tenebrist painters. The influence of Caravaggio is visible in his lighting: he arranged food in lines, hanging it against a strongly lit black background. This still life features a chard, whose whiteness adds luminosity to the picture. Its simplicity contrasts with the Belgium and Dutch still lives of the period, which are crammed full of objects and luxurious items. Sanchez Cotán was to have a strong influence on later painters such as Zurbarán, who in turn had an influence on Cezanne.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns
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