In 1771, Luis Meléndez delivered his third petition for the post of court painter to Charles III. In it, he described a commission he was working on for the Prince of Asturias: forty-four still life paintings depicting the four seasons through Spain’s varied foodstuffs. Meléndez wrote that he had only delivered thirty-seven of the paintings because he did not have the means to continue the series nor enough money to feed himself.

Meléndez (1716–1780) had fallen low indeed after a promising start. In 1745, he had been admitted first among twelve students to Madrid’s new Royal Academy of Fine Arts (founded by his father). He captured this moment in his 1746 self-portrait, exuding capability and confidence...

 
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