The figure of Miguel Jacinto Meléndez (Oviedo, 1679 - Madrid, 25.8.1734) helps to understand some aspects of the evolution of the Spanish painting during the dynastic change after the death of Carlos II. Still pendent in the historiography review that evaluates in a just way the contribution of the painters of the time of the reign of Carlos II and Felipe V, Miguel Jacinto Meléndez is one of the most outstanding representatives of the generation of painters who, being aesthetically educated during the reign of Carlos II, created their works during the reign of Felipe V, a period when the new incipient aesthetic politics of the Borbones, still vague, modified the artistic Hispanic panorama. This new politics carried out by the Monarchy became evident when prestigious foreign artists were contracted and directly affected the Spanish artists who, with the arrival of these teachers, were relegated to the second plane in the preferences of the monarchs. However, the competition among painters and the royal taste is not really important; it marks preferences and graces. Comparatively, the case of Miguel Jacinto Meléndez is significant because he was one of the painters who with his paintbrushes, by his numerous portraits of the royalty consolidated the image of the new dynasty of Bourbons among the Spanish society, playing a decisive propagandistic role.
Miguel Jacinto Meléndez was born in Oviedo in 1697, son of the "muestrense" Vicente Meléndez de Ribera and of Francisca Díaz de Luxío. When he was a child his family immigrated to Madrid where Miguel Jacinto learned the art of painting, possibly from the painter Jose García Hidalgo, and in Academia del Conde de Buena Vista in a traditional way: by copying prints and drawings, later painting from nature and, finally, copying pictures of great teachers of the 17th century.
During this period of training in the Court, his brother, also a famous painter Francisco Antonio Meléndez went to study to Italy, remaining there until his return in 1717, which will lead him to obtaining a post of Royal Painter of Miniatures in 1725. His descendants, together with the renowned painter of still-life painter Luis Meléndez, will make a painters' dynasty of the 18th century.
We know that when Meléndez married Maria del Rio in 1704, he had already finished his period of training. He worked fundamentally as a painter in the Court. He painted portraits of Felipe V and Maria Luisa de Savoya (more than 22 portraits have been located) during the time when the War of Succession paralysed all the artistic court activity. In this context he was nominated an honorary Painter of the King without salary on June 31, 1712. Meléndez obtained only 720 maravedies a year of remuneration that the post bore in February of 1727.
When the War of Succession ended, life of Miguel Jacinto Meléndez went through important changes. Thus, on 19 October, 1715, his wife, Maria del Rio, died five days after giving birth to Julián Joaquín Meléndez. One year later, on 21 October he married Alejandra García de Ocampo. They had two daughters: Josefa Maria and Maria Vicenta, the latter died when she was a child.