(Naples, 1716-Madrid, 1780) 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 18th 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 Oviedo who 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 Jose 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.