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High Choir

National Azulejo Museum

National Azulejo Museum

The High Choir, where the nuns of the old convent used to convene, was also known as the "Treasure Room", given the number of relics stored in its giltwood display cases around the room. Carved in surprisingly meticulous woodwork and then gilded, this collection of relics has few parallels in Portugal. For the most part the relics represent busts of some of the principal martyrs of the Catholic Church and there are few full body examples. What is particularly remarkable is the modelling of the faces and hands, treated with individualised features, regardless of the various eras when they were produced. The daylight illuminating the room comes in through windows that are encircled by blue on white azulejos, representing biblical heroines of the Old Testament and symbols of the Virgin. This room is one of the most important spaces in the entire convent complex, marked also by the presence of the great choir stalls, the marquetry floor made of Brazilian woods, the imposing tabernacle with the arms of D. José I (r. 1750-1777) and the representation of God the Father surrounded by allegorical figures of the theological virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity. Furthermore, there are the paintings lining the upper part of the walls and ceiling, with episodes from the life of Our Lady and Jesus, as well as 16th century portraits of two of the convent’s greatest patrons: D. João III (r. 1521-1557) and his wife D. Catarina of Austria (b. 1507-d. 1578), attributed to Cristóvão Lopes (b. 1516 - d. 1594) and dated circa 1564.

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  • Title: High Choir
  • Physical Location: MNAz, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon, Portugal

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