Luis Melendez, the major Spanish still life artist of the 18th-century, has been honored with an exhibition of his work, now on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. This is an exhibition of some 30 canvases that showcase the master’s virtuoso talent for rendering everyday objects with exacting detail, marvelous effects of color and light, and subtle variations of texture. Paintings from a royal commission, including eight from the Museo del Prado in Spain, as well as works from other European collections, will be on view with related works from American collections. Several paintings on loan have never before been exhibited in public. Also on display will be period objects—including an 18th-century cork wine cooler, Alcorcón pottery, a lusterware honey pot, and a copper chocolate pot—like those represented in Meléndez’s mesmerizing still lifes.
This exhibition closes at the NGA on August 23rd, but continues at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, September 23, 2009–January 3, 2010 and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 31–May 9, 2010.
Additionally, the wonderful monograph associated with this show is available at Amazon.com or from the participating museums. The essays and print quality are excellent, with many beautiful reproductions. This volume brings Melendez's career to life and vividly pictures the working conditions and sales prospects for 18th- century Spanish artists.
The National Gallery of Art has posted two very short and interesting podcasts about the artist on their website.