Juan Sanchez CotanJuan Sanchez Cotan was a Spanish painter who produced only a few still life paintings before committing himself to the life of a monk. His most well known work titled Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber, from 1602 was painted in the Mannerist style, but was really pushing the boundaries of Realism. Cotan used a stark black background to give his spare composition a real drama, and the items are lit by a single natural light source giving the fruits and vegetables real three-dimensional presence. The window ledge or stone niche is nondescript and adds to the drama by creating a stage-like setting. There is a real tenebristic quality to this painting that even Caravaggio would approve of. The quince and head of cabbage hang from string, which was a common way of preserving food at the time, and the string weave and knot are carefully rendered. The slice of melon and the cucumber break the plane of the ledge and occupy the viewer’s space, and even though the pictorial space is relatively shallow, there is a real illusion of depth to this work.