Still Life with Oranges and Walnuts

In addition to the oranges and walnuts, on the wooden shelf there are chestnuts, a melon, earthenware jugs, a small barrel and some circular and oblong boxes. The jugs probably contain wine, while the barrel possibly contains olives. The round boxes were normally used for cheese, while the rectangular ones were used for sweets, such as 'dulce de membrillo', a thick quince jelly eaten in slices.

Meléndez painted this picture at the time when he was hopeful of becoming court painter, having very recently completed a series of still lifes for the Prince of Asturias, the son of Charles III. He was, however, unsuccessful.

The composition is very carefully arranged with larger objects at the rear and smaller objects in the foreground. The artist achieves a powerful sense of volume with a very limited colour range.

Key facts

Artist dates
1716 - 1780
Full title
Still Life with Oranges and Walnuts
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
61 x 81.3 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1986
Inventory number
Location in Gallery