LUIS MELÉNDEZ (1715-1780)
Luis Meléndez is today recognized as the premier still-life painter in eighteenth-century Spain, indeed one of the greatest in all of Europe. He is widely heralded for his virtuoso paintings of everyday objects rendered with exacting detail, marvelous effects of color and light, and subtle variations in texture.
After a precarious beginning to his career, Meléndez received a royal commission in 1771 from the Prince of Asturias (later King Charles IV) to paint a series of still lifes depicting “the four Seasons of the Year, or more properly, the four Elements, with the aim of composing an amusing cabinet with every species of food produced by the Spanish climate.” An inventive and consummate painter of still-life arrangements, Meléndez created 44 compositions for the prince as well as variants for other patrons. His dazzling achievements were long overshadowed by those of his Spanish contemporary, Francisco Goya, but in recent decades his work has gained a growing reputation in the United States and Europe.
Featuring works from collections worldwide––including America, Spain, and England––this lavishly illustrated book showcases 31 still lifes by Meléndez, among them several previously unpublished works. Individual painting entries incorporate fascinating technical images along with close-up reproductions. Essays provide an overview of the artist’s life and work, a discussion of period objects depicted in Meléndez’s still lifes, and an explanation of technical discoveries. The book as a whole illuminates both the art history and technique behind an ingenious body of work.
Gretchen Hirschauer is associate curator of Italian and Spanish paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Catherine Metzger is senior conservator at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Peter Cherry is professor and head of the department of the history of art and architecture at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Natacha Sesena is an independent historian in Madrid, Spain.
Forfattere: Gretchen A. Hirschauer, Catherine A. Metzger, Peter Cherry, and Natacha Seseña
National Gallery of Art, Washington (5/17/09 – 8/23/09)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (9/23/09 – 1/3/10)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1/31/10 – 5/9/10)