Juan Sanchez
de Cotán

Spain • 1560−1627

Biography and information

This artist with an extraordinary destiny has been widely recognized in Toledo and in the age of forty, decided to join the monastery of Paular. Respectful narrator with sensitivity "primitivist" and at the same time, one of the founders of tenebrism in painting of the beginning of the "Golden age" of Spanish art, Sanchez Kotan is one of the Spanish masters, the most intriguing modern researchers. He studied in Toledo from Blas del Prado, painter, revered for his still lifes that are not known today. Sanchez Kotan successfully engaged in religious painting, he painted altarpieces, which also has not survived. But when, in 1603, before tonsure, he made his will, his holdings were numerous still lifes ("badagoni"), which can be identified with well-known paintings ("Vegetables and poultry", 1602, Madrid, collection of Duke de Hernani). In 1604 he became a monk of the monastery of the Sierra de Guadarrama, where in 1612 he was transferred to the Carthusian monastery in Granada, where he died, beloved and revered as a Saint. His extensive work of this period was devoted exclusively to the monastery. The artist reaches the peak of his skill in 1615, when it creates for the cloister of the Carthusian monastery in Granada a series of eight large "stories" (Foundation of the order of St. Bruno, the persecution of the Catholics of England Protestants). He also painted the Chapter hall, the refectory and some of the choir ("the last supper", "passion of the Christ", "the Immaculate conception") and writes in the monk cells, the images of Madonna with flower garlande and green landscapes with hermits. The works of Sanchez Kotan, currently stored in the monastery and the Museum of Granada, are the unmistakable traits of archaic, but at the same time, testify about a living artist's interest to the problems of coverage and interpretation of the volumes. Sometimes they resemble some works of the Italian Cambiaso, which Sanchez Kotan could see in Escorial ("Madonna waking the infant Christ", Granada, Museum of fine arts). Religious subjects, including scenes of martyrdom, interpreted by the artist in a relaxed rhythm, with deep scratchiest and pure naivety ("the Vision of St. Hugh", "the Christ, the Madonna and the angels, who are building the walls of the Carthusian monastery", "St. Bruno and his companions in front of St. Hugo", "the Madonna of the rosary surrounded by the Carthusian monks"). On the other hand, the still-lifes of Sanchez Kotan, preceded or followed his religious compositions are of exceptional quality: their asceticism, almost musical rhythm of lines and arabesques, the strict distribution of volumes and shadows, - all this is reminiscent of the metaphysics of neopythagorean and Spanish mysticism, which gave the everyday reality of an exalted meaning ("Bodegon with artichoke", Granada, Museum of fine arts, "still life with pumpkin", San Diego, CA, Museum of art). The impact of Sanchez Kotan was greater than suggests his early departure from the world. According to Palomino, Carducho before you take your big cycle at the monastery of Paular, specially came from Madrid to visit the artist and see his works. Perhaps, like the visit to the sánchez Kotan made and Zurbaran, in any case, the affinity of his works with the works of the artist seems obvious. In addition, the direct influence of "bodegones" Sanchez Kotan noticeable in the works of many younger artists, such as Felipe Ramirez ("Artichoke, flowers and grapes", 1628, Madrid, Prado) and Blas de Cherish.