He was born in Ferrara in 1885. Melli has the merit, today to very few artists, of fully possessing the technique of all the fine arts, and what is more important, of knowing how to refer to each technique the spirit that is appropriate and that suits the different subjects. He is a true craftsman, a name that now many who practice art would disdain and which also constituted so much of the greatness of the Renaissance masters.He cultivates sculpture, painting, xylography, ceramics and embossing on metals with equal confidence. He was among the first lovers of woodcut in Italy, contributing to the rebirth movement of this art.
His art takes place on a line of evolution that would be easy to divide into very specific and determined periods according to the aspirations and criteria of the artist and the results obtained. In a first period (1909-10) Melli worked with vigor all in the arms of his instinctive and excusable faculties, without concern for research. From this period is the Girl’s Head exhibited in the Spring of which Edoardo De Albertis said it was “the noblest and tastiest fragment of modern Italian sculpture”.
From 1912 to ’14, on the other hand, he proceeded by attempts aimed at giving values of volume and color in an expressive plastic whole. The works of this period have only fragmentary value and remain in the field of the “essay” or rather of the “plastic taste” and are part of a survey of one’s own faculties placed in jeopardy with matter. Several attempts at painting belong to a third period (1915-1920) interrupted by three years of war.
In the artistic activity of Melli in the years 1914 and ’15 the work carried out in the restoration of the Abruzzo sacred overhangs, carried out on behalf of the State, is worthy of note; work that gives Melli a complete and original physiognomy as a goldsmith.