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Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life

  • Still Life with Bread, Ham, Cheese, and Vegetables

    about 1772
    Luis Meléndez (Spanish, 1716–1780)

    Description

    The leading still-life painter of Spain during the eighteenth century, Meléndez was born in Naples and spent most of his student years in Rome. However, his still lifes have a sober yet sensuous realism characteristic of Spanish painting of the previous century. On a kitchen table are piled simple foodstuffs; every color and texture is precisely rendered, and the composition is woven together by curving lines and shapes. This painting and its companion, Still Life with Melon and Pears (MFA object no. 39.40), may be from a series of forty-five still lifes Meléndez painted for one of the royal palaces, intended to represent “every species of food produced in Spain.”

    Inscription

    Lower right, on edge of table: L. EG[...]O M.

    Provenance

    R.F. Ratcliff, England [see note 1]. Possibly Mrs. Olga Bode Matthiesen [see note 2]. By 1938, Matthiesen, Ltd., London; 1939, sold by Matthiesen to the MFA for $300. (Accession Date: February 9, 1939) NOTES: [1] Eleanor Tufts, "Luis Meléndez: Eighteenth-Century master of the Spanish Still Life with a Catalogue Raisonné (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1985), 92, cat. no. 58. [2] According to information provided by the Matthiesen Gallery (December 1, 2005).

    Credit Line

    Margaret Curry Wyman Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    61.9 x 85.1 cm (24 3/8 x 33 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.40

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    European Painting Gallery (Gallery 249)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

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  • Still Life with Melon and Pears

    about 1772
    Luis Meléndez (Spanish, 1716–1780)

    Description

    Meléndez favored arrangements of everyday objects painted with sober yet sensuous realism. He savored shapes, surfaces, and colors—from the webbed rind of the melon to the glint of a wine bottle cooling in a cork bucket—and despite the profusion of objects, his paintings convey a satisfying sense of balance and measure. This still life may be from a series of forty-five, said to represent “every species of food produced in Spain,” that Meléndez created for the king’s summer residence outside Madrid. Ironically, many were painted at a time when poor harvests had produced severe food shortages. The artist himself had no money to buy food, claiming that his brush was his only asset.

    Inscription

    Lower right, on edge of table: EG L M D. S. P.

    Provenance

    R.F. Ratcliff, England [see note 1]. Possibly Mrs. Olga Bode Matthiesen [see note 2]. By 1938, Matthiesen Ltd., London; 1939, sold by Matthiesen to the MFA for $300. (Accession Date: February 9, 1939) NOTES: [1] Eleanor Tufts, "Luis Meléndez: Eighteenth-Century master of the Spanish Still Life with a Catalogue Raisonné (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1985), 92-93, cat. no. 59. [2] According to information provided by the Matthiesen Gallery (December 1, 2005).

    Credit Line

    Margaret Curry Wyman Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    63.8 x 85.1 cm (25 1/8 x 33 1/2 in.)

    Accession Number

    39.41

    Medium or Technique

    Oil on canvas

    On View

    European Painting Gallery (Gallery 249)

    Collections

    Europe

    Classifications

    Paintings

    More Info

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