‘Tis the season to eat berries! It’s probably my single favorite thing about summer—the produce—especially fruit. This year I find myself generally smitten with cherries, but my passion extends over many species. Last week I swooned over some raspberries I had the pleasure of picking right off the vine. And nothing compares to watermelon in humidity like this.
In wanting to pay homage to the delectable flesh of summer, I thought of the sumptuous still lifes by 18th century Spanish painter Luis Meléndez, whose work was the subject of an exhibit last summer at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
As a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in Madrid, the talented Luis aspired to become a royal portrait painter. However, he and his father (who taught at the academy) clashed with the administration and were both expelled. Unsuccessful in petitioning the court for a position, he was relegated to painting still lifes and died in poverty.
Fast forward to a google image-search and yet another Luis Meléndez having difficulties with the court. Nestled among the ripe tomatoes and voluptuous melons, is a wanted poster by the New Bedford Police Department for our painter’s namesake. He failed to appear in court on the last day of his trial, which resulted in a conviction for cocaine trafficking. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in a state prison.
If anyone has information on Mr. Meléndez’s location or sees him, they are urged to either call 911, call New Bedford Police’s Violent Crime Tip Line at 508-961-4584 or the State Police Unit assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office at 508-993-2016.
The public should not attempt to apprehend or subdue Mr. Melendez on their own.
The notice is dated 2007, with no status update. I can only hope that he is now safely behind bars, and has taken up painting.
I strongly urge you to visit the Prado Museum site to see the incredible detail of the images when enlarged (below).
To see other paintings in the Prado collection, go to the Prado on-line gallery search and enter Luis Meléndez.