It’s quite sad that 18th-century painter Luis
Melendez died poor and relatively unknown and yet he is now recognized as one,
if not the, greatest still life art painter of his day. His style and approach
as a still life artist breathed new life into a genre that was already well
established, and most importantly he did things differently when it came to
composing his works. All of which solidify his standing as one of Spain’s
||Still Life with Melon and Pears
by Luis Melendez, oil on canvas, 18th century.
Melendez did not in any way scorn the achievements or focus
of the still life artists that preceded him. Like Zurbaran and Juan Sanchez
Cotan, he knew how to present light effects, texture, and color of the objects
in his paintings of still life.
|Still Life with Fruit and a Jar
by Luis Melendez, oil on canvas, 1773.
What he did do differently was bring those sumptuous fruits,
glistening glassware, glimmering copper pots, and crusty bread closer to the
viewer in the picture plane. He dropped his vantage point as well, allowing the
viewer to peruse the objects from a slightly elevated angle.
These are small
modifications and yet they give the viewer a better look at the objects by more
fully turning them to the light. The details of texture and light that Melendez
adds to the surfaces of the objects makes it seem like they are being held in the
viewer’s own hands. The result is everyday objects presented in a monumental
way, reinforcing the joy of sight that must have provoked the artist to pursue
still life painting with such rigor.
For more still life painting inspiration—and techniques that
you can start using today in your own works—explore the newly launched 2012 CD
collections from The Artist Magazine,
Watercolor Artist, Pastel Journal and Southwest Art.
Enjoy delving deeper into the art you love!