National Gallery of Art    
Still Life feature navigation Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder Luis Meléndez Raphaelle Peale   Previous Page Next page
Still Life    
Self-Portrait Holding an Academic Study by Luis Melendez
Luis Meléndez, Self-Portrait Holding an Academic Study, 1746, Musée du Louvre, Paris, © Réunion des Musées Nationaux, photograph by Hervé Lewandowski



In this glamorous self-portrait as a young art student, Luis Meléndez exudes confidence. Ranked first in his class at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, the son of a prominent artist, he is poised for success. But Meléndez died in poverty. The about one hundred paintings he left us are not grand history paintings or royal portraits, but humble still lifes. What happened? The story begins with his father, Francisco.

Francisco Meléndez was the official miniature painter to the Spanish King, Philip V. He was also a founding professor of Spain's first art academy. Fiery and impetuous, he protested after losing an Academy commission that the school was poisoned by an atmosphere of jealousy and malice. After circulating a letter denouncing the Academy as a "very small organization for my talents," he was ousted, forbidden from ever entering the school again.

His son was also expelled. Despite his obvious talent, Luis' career never recovered. Meléndez, haunted throughout his life by his father's letter, was repeatedly denied positions at the Academy and at court.

Previous pageNext page



terms of use | home | Go to our page on Facebook Go to our page on Twitter