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Healing of a blind man

Master P.M.P. (?)1700/1730

National Azulejo Museum

National Azulejo Museum
Lisbon, Portugal

These were two of the more surprising discoveries revealed in the so-called "Old Deposit" of the National Azulejo Museum, a vast collection of azulejos that in the 1880s came from extinguished convents, and churches and palaces that had been demolished or profoundly transformed. They are two panels, associated to the narrative of the life and miracles of Christ. Their large size lead us to suppose that these were elements included in a vast iconographic programme, where these paintings would have been framed with a border, now no longer in existence, as if they were large tapestries. That border, most probably composed of a depth of two azulejos, would give each of the panels a greater scenographic effect, as required by their already large dimensions. These pieces are undoubtedly associated with the so-called Cycle of the Masters (1690-1725), considered as the highlight of Portuguese blue and white figurative azulejos. The plastic treatment of the brushstrokes and the chiaroscuro contrasts present here suggest we could be in the presence of works related with Master P.M.P., a painter who worked with the Oliveira Bernardes families, one of the most renowned at that time and with great experience in pictorial illusionism. We only know this artist’s initials, but although mainly linked to images connected with the representation of a certain gallant worldliness, inspired by French engravings, he is also known to have painted some religious compositions. The composition of the Healing of the Blind Man seems to have as its reference Italian fresco paintings: the narrative divided into two moments with the blind beggar in the background and the indifference of those beside him; the mass of apostles positioned behind Christ, evoking the works of Masaccio or Piero della Francesca, but above all the suspended gesture of the healing, the centre and axis of the composition, which is made real by the almost life-size dimensions of the characters. The Baptism also seems to evoke this Italianising aesthetic, in the contrast between the massive figure of St. John the Baptist and the sensuality of Christ’s body sprayed with water pouring from the scallop shell, also the primary movement of the image narrated here.

Details

  • Title: Healing of a blind man
  • Creator: Master P.M.P. (?)
  • Date Created: 1700/1730
  • Physical Location: MNAz, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 180 cm x 247 cm
  • Type: Glazed tiles
  • Medium: Blue on white faience

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