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Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto

Oviedo (Sapin), 1679 - Madrid (Spain), 1734

Miguel Jacinto was the founder of a family of artists, members of which include his younger brother, Francisco Antonio, a miniaturist, and the latter’s son Luis, the most important still-life painter of the 18th century. Miguel Jacinto moved to Madrid at the end of the century, where he apparently studied with Francisco Antonio in the workshop of José García Hidalgo, a former pupil of Juan Carreño de Miranda. This fact explains why his early work adheres to late Baroque style painting in Madrid. After the death of the Habsburg court’s last three great Baroque painters (Juan Carreño de Miranda, Francisco Rizi and Francisco de Herrera), Miguel Jacinto soon consolidated his role as a court portraitist, a position that was cemented after Luca Giordano’s return to Italy. After completing the commissions for portraits of Philip V, of his first wife, Maria Luisa of Savoy, and of his son Louis, the successor to the throne, he was awarded the title of honorary painter to the king in 1712 without the right to a salary. This was a situation that did not change until 1727. Nevertheless, the painter soon achieved high social and economic status, made evident by an inventory and an appraisal of his assets that was performed upon his second marriage in 1716. Following the War of the Spanish Succession, portraits of royal family members became an essential instrument of political propaganda. This guaranteed a regular income for Miguel Jacinto, who in his initial stages devoted himself almost exclusively to this task.
In 1727, he finally had access to the privileges that come with being painter to the king – perhaps because he had painted the important ‘Series of portraits of the family of Philip V’ for the Royal Library – when he signed the portrait of the monarch’s second wife, Isabella Farnese, Princess of Parma. Of the 30 or so portraits found – two of which are located in the Prado – not a single one dates from after that project. The arrival of Jean Ranc to the court in 1724 ousted him definitively. Nevertheless, the new prototype for the royal portrait, imposed by the French painter, had already left its mark on Meléndez’s work. Having received training in the Madrid school between 1667–1700, he moderated his technique in favour of more dense brushstrokes and a colder palette. His production became more idealised, and, unlike the portraits from the previous century, he exhibited a preference for lavish and luxurious clothing and details. These innovations within the genre do not outweigh the discreet elegance that characterised the work of the painter, who always emphasised a certain melancholic air in his models. Nevertheless, outside the court, his style remained faithful to the traditions of the Spanish Golden Age. At the height of his maturity, Miguel Jacinto produced religious compositions for churches and convents, frequently repeating the models of Carreño and Mateo Cerezo. In 1734, he was commissioned to paint two enormous paintings for the transept of San Felipe el Real, Saint Augustine vanquishing a Plague of Locusts and The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. His death prevented him from carrying out the project, and Andrés de la Calleja, who was probably his pupil, completed it (Reuter, A. in: Encyclopaedia M.N.P., 2006, vol. V, pp. 1518-19).

Artworks (11)

Maria Luisa Gabriella of Savoy, Queen of Spain
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
Philip V
Oil on canvas, XVIII century
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
Philip V
Oil on canvas, 1718 - 1722
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
Isabella Farnese
Oil on canvas, 1718 - 1722
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
The Holy Family
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1732
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
The Immaculate Conception
Oil on canvas, 1733
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
Oil on canvas, 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
Saint Augustine vanquishing the Plague of Locusts
Oil on canvas, 1734
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
El infante Felipe
Black chalk on laid paper, XVIII century
Meléndez, Miguel Jacinto
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