Still Life with Bread, Ham, Cheese, and Vegetables

about 1772
Luis Meléndez (Spanish, 1716–1780)


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

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

European Painting Gallery (Gallery 249)





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.”


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


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)

[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