1716-1780. a Spanish painter
was a Spanish painter. Although he received little acclaim during his lifetime and died in poverty, Melendez is recognized today as the greatest Spanish still-life painter of the eighteenth century. His mastery of composition and light, and his remarkable ability to convey the volume and texture of individual objects enabled him to transform the most mundane of kitchen fare into powerful images. Luis Egidio Melendez de Rivera Durazo y Santo Padre was born in Naples in 1716. His father, Francisco Melendez de Rivera Diaz (1682- after 1758), was a miniaturist painter from Oviedowho had moved to Madrid with his older brother, the portrait painter Miguel Jacinto Melendez (1679-1734) in pursuit of artistic instruction.Whereas Miguel remained in Madrid to study and became a painter in the court of Philip V, Francisco left for Italy in 1699 to seek greater artistic exposure. Francisco took a special interest in visiting the Italian academies and settled in Naples where he married Maria Josefa Durazo y Santo Padre Barrille.Luis was a year old when his father, who had been a soldier in a Spanish garrison and lived abroad for almost two decades, returned to Madrid with the family. Luis Egidio, his brother Jos' Agusten, and Ana, one of his sisters, began their careers under the tutelage of their father, who was appointed the King's Painter of Miniatures in 1725.After several years, in his words: painting royal portraits in jewels and bracelets to serve as gifts for envoys and ambassadors, he entered the workshop of Louis Michel van Loo (1707-1771), a Frenchman who had been made royal painter of Philip V of Spain. Between 1737 to 1742, Melendez worked as a part of a team of artist dedicated to copying van Loo's prototypes of royal portraits for the domestic and overseas market, but at least he had a foothold in the palace. He had his artistic sights on a distinguished career as a court painter. When the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando was provisionally inaugurated in 1744, his father, Francisco, was made an honorary director of painting and Luis was among the first students to be admitted, he achieved outstanding results in drawing. The Academy was progressive in that it not only tolerated but also encouraged the 'lesser' genres, including still life. At this time, he was already an accomplished painter as proved by his superb self-portrait at the Louvre signed in 1747. However, this opportunity was marred by a petty quarrel; Luis' father, Francisco, openly attacked the director of the Academy and claimed for himself the honor of being the founder. He had his son Luis personally delivered the inflammatory material to the Academy. Francisco was relieved of his teaching position and Luis was formally expelled from the Academy on June 15, 1748. Unlike his father, Luis professional status was precarious.