“Still Life with Plums”, Luis Melendez – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Still life with plums – Luis Melendez. XVIII century. Canvas, oil. Sixty two x 40 one cm.

   Outside, a very ordinary still life actually conceals a huge number of difficulties for the artist. It is fundamentally not easy to convey the size and shape, volume of objects, and their special features, for example, shine, dullness, texture, density, etc. .. It is especially difficult to do this with fruits, vegetables and berries. With a lack of skill in the artist, they turn out to be unnatural, “plastic”. Melendez never had such a flaw – all of his still lifes are extremely realistic.

   The picture with the plums seems unpretentious, but after looking closely, it becomes clear that the master did a gigantic job here. He set himself a difficult task, which he successfully completed. He had to portray a huge amount of black plums in color against a saturated background, and also convey several completely different textures: the surface of plums, figs, branches, leaves, wood countertops, ordinary coarse cloth and homemade bread lying on it. With all this, he had to take into account the lighting and perfectly convey the volume of all parts.

   Judging by the fact that the painting is in the famous Prado Museum and until now has been intensively attracting the attention of guests, the painter masterfully mastered his own task. Indeed, the plums on the canvas impress with their volume and density, the branches of a tree with leaves seem to have just wilted due to the heat, and the bread seems to emit a smell, as if it had been pulled out of the oven not so long ago.

   The background of the picture is neutral, black, matte, therefore, in it, in particular, blue-coated liquid plums covered with a bluish bloom look especially without a loss. They are in a picture of two sizes: the dish is filled with large juicy fruits, and on the branches stuck in a pile of plums, small fruits hang more closely resembling ripe olives. Next to a regular, even rough wood tabletop, is a mature dark fig.

   Echoing with highlights on large plums, on the corner of the table, on a couple of times folded napkin from ordinary fabric, there are several homemade crescent-shaped loaves of bread. They have a pleasant golden tint and perfectly set off the overall black deep color palette of the canvas."