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Meléndez, Luis Egidio

Naples, 1716 - Madrid, 1780

Born in Italy into a Spanish family of Asturian origin, he was the son of Antonio, a miniaturist, and the nephew of Miguel Jacinto, a portraitist. He began his training in Madrid with his father, and later attended the classes of the Preparatory Board of the Academy of San Fernando and was a pupil of Louis-Michel Van Loo, achieving an in-depth mastery of the portraiture technique, as evidenced by his magnificent "Self-Portrait" (Paris, Musee du Louvre). His father's expulsion from the board and the resulting clash with Van Loo led him to abandon his academic studies. He left for Italy and returned to Spain, where he initially worked as a miniaturist, though his predominant role was in still life and he became one of the most outstanding painters in the history of the genre. He was mainly active in the second half of the 1700s, when the century turned into a decisive phase that had been slowly brewing throughout Philip V's reign, owing both to the presence of foreigners at the court and to the voyages made by Spaniards to Italy and the plans to restructure the teaching of art. This period reached its apogee with Goya. Melendez's paintings are generally highly sober and executed with sound draughtsmanship and a perfectionist realism that extends to the tiniest detail. His ordered and clear compositions that are fond of contrasting light and shadow display an intensity that recalls the finest works of Sánchez Cotán or Zurbarán; in this aspect he continued the brilliant 17-century Spanish art. His works are now dispersed among private collections and museums in Spain and abroad. The Prado owns a large set of paintings by his hand, which hail from Aranjuez palace and belong to a group with the same title: "an amusing cabinet with all sorts of foodstuffs that the Spanish climate produces". The work of this artist, who is sometimes inaptly called "the Spanish Chardin", lacks the lyrical impulse of the French painter's works, which are more exquisitely diversified. Meléndez is an expert in his treatment of surfaces, displaying an extraordinary skill in capturing the properties of things: fruits, ceramic, glass, cork, textiles, metals and stone. In some paintings he introduces a background landscape that recalls Neapolitan still lifes. A master of the power of expression and almost a wizard of technique, he embodies in his desire for exactness the principles of the enlightened world applied to the depiction of elements in a manner that can be considered educational (Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, pp. 389-390).

Artworks (40)

Still Life with Oranges, Melon and Boxes of Sweets
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Still Life with Limes, Box of Jelly, Butterfly and Vessels
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Bodegón con peros, queso, pan y recipientes
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Bodegón con chuletón, condimentos y recipientes
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Still Life with Plums, Figs and Bread
Oil on canvas, Second half of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Still Life with Melon, Figs, Apples, Wineskin, and Picnic Hamper in a Landscape
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Still Life with Ham, Eggs and Vessels
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Bodegón con pichones, cesta de comida y cuencos
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio
Still Life with Apricots, Buns and Vessels
Oil on canvas, Third quarter of the XVIII century
Meléndez, Luis Egidio

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