Luis Melendez

There is an old building near my home with a plaque to show the location of Miguel Jacinto Melendez’s workshop. He was a painter in the court of the Spanish King Felipe V. I often thought about his young nephew Luis Egidio Melendez (1716-1780) and supposed he used to work there too. Luis Egidio Melendez was one of the best still-life painters in the world. Among his well-known works, there is a much interesting self-portrait (exhibited at the Louvre)

Guillermo Coll | Luis Melendez

and a series of forty-eight still-life paints ordered in 1771 by the Prince of Asturias, the next King Charles IV who intended to decorate his own private quarters. Thirty-nine are nowadays a part of the Prado Museum’s collection. I’d like to specially focus on one of these called, Servicio de chocolate, (still-life with chocolate service) which is included in all guides as an indispensable work of art. Nevertheless, the viewers tend to be more attracted to a wonderful slice of fresh salmon in his Bodegón con salmón, limón y recipientes, (still-life with salmon, lemon and vessels) or to sea breams in the outstanding Bodegón con besugos, naranjas, condimentos y utensilios de cocina (still-life with sea breams, oranges, spices and kitchen utensils).

Guillermo Coll | Luis Melendez

Luis Melendez lived nearly a whole life of darkness and poverty. He wrote a moving letter, which has come down to us, about his much precarious situation with little resources to survive, to buy food or tools (all of these were used as models in his paintings and were subsequently necessary to feed himself). He did not know that, over the years, his works would be exhibited in the main museums of the world.

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