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Still Life with Watermelons and Apples in a Landscape
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
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Meléndez, Luis Egidio

Naples, 1716 - Madrid, 1780

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Still Life with Watermelons and Apples in a Landscape

1771. Oil on canvas Room 088

The fruit in the foreground is projected with unrivaled expressive force—a superb rendering of its attractive freshness. The works sober composition is executed in a manner that brings out its author’s virtuosity: solid drawing, rich colors and a perfectionist realism that extends to even the smallest details. The arrangement of these splendid fruits is orderly and clear, eschewing a facile decorativeness in favor of a concretion heightened by the fine contrast of light and shadows. Though generally fond of neutral backgrounds, Meléndez opts for a summary landscape in this work, making it a rare and original image that recalls the landscapes in his illustrations of the beautiful pages of the Royal Chapel’s choir books.

The outdoor setting and the peculiar overall construction recall Neapolitan still lifes, which this artist may have seen in Italy or as a result of his familiarity with works from that school in Madrid. The fleshy and juice-filled watermelons are rendered with reddish bases heightened by touches of whites, pinks, yellows and reds whose different mixtures and degrees of impasto create a variety of nuances in their endocarp, from the denser flesh to the moistest parts whose transparent drops of juice drip on the ground. The passage between the two apples in the immediate foreground is very delicate indeed, with the fallen seeds, drops of juice and tiny bits of watermelon flesh. And the artist’s rendering of the apples is no less meticulous. His fine eye leads him to specify the smallest details—the tiny rotted spots, the highlights and their ripeness—with small touches of vermillion, red lacquer and various earth tones that mix and combine with the yellow color of their skin. At the same time, he locates each on in the pictorial space by its degree of treatment and how the skin is finished.

This canvas is paired with another painting of almost exactly the same size—P922—with which it shares the subject of fruit with a landscape in the background, and thus no other spatial reference than Nature itself. Watermelons, cut or whole, appear in various other works by this artist in Spanish and foreign collections. These works stand out for the grace and novelty of their peculiar structure, which is very different from the solid works from the seventh decade of the century. The play of opposing lines and the ease with which they are laid out constitute a dynamic not at all frequent in Meléndez’s production. Indeed, these images seem to be the result of a more joyous and relaxed esthetic, far from the traditional Spanish sobriety associated with Siglo de Oro artworks. An X-ray image of this painting shows that the canvas has been reused, with a confused underlying composition that seems to consist of large-leafed plants (Text from Luna, J. J. : El bodegón español en el Prado. De Van der Hamen a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2008, p. 122).

Technical data

Inventory number
P000923
Author
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Title
Still Life with Watermelons and Apples in a Landscape
Date
1771
Technique
Oil
Support
Canvas
Dimension
Height: 63 cm.; Width: 84 cm.
Series
Bodegones para el Gabinete de Historia Natural del Príncipe de Asturias (futuro Carlos IV)
Provenance
Royal Collection (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, gabinete de historia natural del príncipe de Asturias, 1771; Casita del Príncipe, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, 1778; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, pabellón grande del embarcadero, h. 1785; Aranjuez, habitaciones del príncipe, h. 1800, nº 7; Aranjuez, pieza de cubierto del rey, 1818, nº 7)

Bibliography +

Soria, M. D., Firmas de Luis Egidio Meléndez, Archivo español de arte y arqueología, 1948, pp. 217.

Tufts, Eleanor May, A Stylistic Study of the Paintings of Luis Melendez.Vol.I.Te..., Xerox University Microfilms, Michigan, 1971, pp. 171.

Tufts, Eleanor, Luis Meléndez, still-life painter sans pareil, Gazette des beaux-arts, 1982, pp. nº22.

Luis Meléndez: bodegonista español del siglo XVIII, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Archivos y Bibl, Madrid, 1982, pp. 98.

Pintura española de bodegones y floreros de 1600 a Goya /, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Bellas, Madrid, 1983, pp. 167.

Tufts, Eleanor, Luis Melendez: eighteenth-century master of the Spanish stil, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1985, pp. 77.

Pérez Sánchez, Alfonso E. (1935-2010)), La nature morte espagnole du XVII sièecle a Goya /, Office du Livre ; Vilo, París, 1987, pp. 192.

Espinosa Martín, María del Carmen, Aportes documentales a los bodegones de Luis Meléndez, Boletín del Museo del Prado, X, 1989, pp. 67-77.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Karge, Henrik, Vision Oder Wirklichkeit. Die Spanische Malerei Der Neuzeit, Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich, 1991, pp. 199.

Luna, Juan J., Los Alimentos de España en la Pintura. Bodegones de Luis Mel..., Mercasa, Madrid, 1995, pp. 138.

Jordan, William B., Spanish Still Life From Velazquez To Goya, National Gallery, Londres, 1995, pp. 161.

Nilsson, Bo, Still Leben, Nationalmuseum, Estocolmo, 1995, pp. nº170.

El bodegón, Galaxia GutenbergCírculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 2000, pp. 358-359.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Goya y la pintura española del siglo XVIII: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2000, pp. 312.

Cherry, Peter, Luis Meléndez: bodegones, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 200.

Garrido Pérez, Carmen, Luis Meléndez: la serie de bodegones para el Príncipe de Ast, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 282-287.

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado., Tokio - Osaka, 2006, pp. nº69.

Cherry, Peter, Luis Meléndez : still-life painter, Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia, Madrid, 2006, pp. nº34.

Luna, Juan J., El bodegón español en el Prado: de Van der Hamen a Goya, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2008, pp. 122/123.

Hirschauer, Gretchen A., Luis Meléndez : master of the Spanish still life, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2009, pp. 128-133.

In the presence of things : four centuries of European still..., Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisboa, 2010, pp. 107-117.

Luna, J. J., Luis Meléndez. Bodegones para el Príncipe de Asturias, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2012, pp. 45.

Mena Marques, M.B, 'Las cuatro Estaciones. Verano y Otoño' En:, Mena Marques,Manuela B. Goya en Madrid : cartones para tapices 1775-1794, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 262-273 [272 f.7.31].

Other inventories +

Inv. Carlos IV, Habitacs. príncipe, Aranjuez, h.1800. Núm. 7.
INVENTARIO DE TODAS LAS PINTURAS QUE ESTAN COLOCADAS EN LAS REALES HAVITACIONES DEL PRINCIPE NRO. SEÑOR EN EL REAL PALACIO DEL SITIO DE ARANJUEZ. Escrito por D. Manl Muñoz de Ugeña, y Matarranz [...] Núm. 7 / Quarenta y cinco Quadros de varios tamaños que contienen Bodegones y Fruteros; los del primer tamaño son quatro de vara de largo y tres quartas de caida; del segundo hay catorce de tres quartas de largo y media vara de caida: del tercero son doce de mas de media vara de largo y poco menos de caida; y la quarta clase que son del tamaño de los antecedentes por lo alto, son quince; Su Autor Don Luis Melendez.

Inv. Fernando VII, Aranjuez, 1814-1818. Núm. 7.
{20605} 7 / 45 quadros que representan varios fruteros quatro de ellos de tres pies de alto por tres y medio de ancho, los 41 restantes de pie y medio de alto por uno de ancho = Melendez

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 235.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 235.
Menendez. / 235. Frutero: peros y zandias. / Alto 2 pies, 3 pulg; ancho 3 pies

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 827.
827.-Frutero. Alto 0,63. Ancho 0,84.-Lienzo.-(Compañero del anterior.) Peros y sandías. Procedente del Pal. de Aranjuez.

Exhibitions +

Goya in Madrid
Madrid
28.11.2014 - 03.05.2015

El bodegón español en el Prado. Alcoi
Alcoi
24.03.2011 - 26.06.2011

El bodegón español en el Prado
Murcia
12.03.2010 - 09.05.2010

Luis Meléndez
Boston
29.01.2010 - 09.05.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
Valladolid
12.10.2009 - 14.02.2010

Luis Meléndez
Los Ángeles CA
23.09.2009 - 03.01.2010

El bodegón español en el Prado
25.06.2009 - 20.09.2009

Luis Meléndez
Washington D.C.
17.05.2009 - 23.08.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
31.03.2009 - 31.05.2009

El bodegón español en el Prado
24.09.2008 - 30.11.2008

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
Osaka
14.07.2006 - 15.10.2006

De Tiziano a Goya. Obras maestras del Museo del Prado
Tokio
24.03.2006 - 02.07.2006

Luis Meléndez
Dublín
16.06.2004 - 05.09.2004

Luis Meléndez
17.02.2004 - 16.05.2004

Bodegones
Estocolmo
15.02.1995 - 15.05.1995

Location +

Room 088 (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 03-05-2019 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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