One of the greatest still-life painters of the 18th century, Luis Meléndez executed a series of some 44 still lifes for a commission by the Prince of Asturias (the future Charles IV) for his Royal Palace in Madrid. Continuing the rich still-life tradition of the Spanish Golden Age, Still Life With a Plate of Azaroles, Fruit, Mushrooms, Cheese and Receptacles is a variant of a picture that today resides in the collection of the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Meléndez imbues his picture with a sense of modernity through the highly realistic treatment of the objects themselves that reflects the prevailing spirit of the Age of Enlightenment.
Goya’s small in scale portrait of Rita Luna, one of the most celebrated dramatic actresses of the day, is perhaps unexpected in its directness, capturing the aging star’s human frailty. Dating from 1814–1818, the painting seems likely to have been kept in the artist’s personal collection. It certainly does not relate closely to most of the other portraits that Goya was producing at that moment. In 1814 the Bourbon monarchy had been restored and Goya called upon to paint its luminaries including King Ferdinand VII himself, and other members of the court. As is to be expected, these royal commissions were executed in the grand style, unlike this highly personal portrait of Rita Luna.