Unable to sleep, I researched Juan Sánchez Cotán, who is known for his gorgeous, Baroque still life paintings of raw fruits and vegetables. Through his work, I discovered an entire collective of Spanish painters focused on what is classified as Bodegón, meaning paintings depicting pantry items, fresh produce, meats, or varied food scenes. Incredible painters such as Diego Velázquez, Luis Egidio Meléndez, and Juan Bautista de Espinosa were all interested in capturing the subtleties and nuances of simple food, as part of the everyday. Unlike Flemish and Dutch artists who depicted more luxurious settings, the Spanish focused on presenting the normality of these forms, as symbolic of the labor and remnants of real, working class people. For me, they transform even the most mundane of ingredients into powerful, emotionally charged images.
Photo credit: Luis Egidio Meléndez (Spanish, 1715 – 1780), "Still Life with Box of Jellied Fruit, Bread, Silver Salver, Glass, and Wine Cooler," Oil on canvas, 49.5 x 37 cm, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid