MELVILLE, ARTHUR (1858-1904), British painter, was born in Scotland, in a village of Haddingtonshire. He took up painting at an early age, and though he attended a night-school and studied afterwards in Paris and Grez, he learnt more from practice and personal observation than from school training. The remarkable colour-sense which is so notable a feature of his work, whether in oils or in water-colour, came to him during his travels in Persia, Egypt and India. Melville, though comparatively little known during his lifetime, was one of the most powerful influences in contemporary art, especially in his broad decorative treatment with water-colour. Though his vivid impressions of colour and movement are apparently recorded with feverish haste, they are the result of careful deliberation and selection. He was at his best in his water-colours of Eastern life and colour and his Venetian scenes, but he also painted several striking portraits in oils and a powerful colossal composition of “The Return from the Crucifixion” which remained unfinished at his death in 1904. At the Victoria and Albert Museum is one of his water-colours, “The Little Bull-Fight—Bravo, Toro!” and another, “An Oriental Goatherd,” is in the Weimar Museum. But the majority of his pictures have been absorbed by private collectors.
A comprehensive memorial exhibition of Melville's Works Was held at the Royal Institute Galleries in London in 1906.