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Singerie: the chicken’s wedding

Pottery of Manuel Francisco (?)1660/1667

National Azulejo Museum

National Azulejo Museum
Lisbon, Portugal

This is one of the most enigmatic azulejo panels in the collection of the National Azulejo Museum. A chicken is conveyed in a coach driven by a monkey, behind two elephants, giving the scene an added sense of exoticism. Moving in the opposite direction is a triumphant cortege of monkeys playing a variety of musical instruments. The monkey, which is an animal that since ancient times in the west has been linked to satire, might help us read this type of panel in the context of the War of Restoration (1640-1668), as a criticism of the enemy or the supporters of the defeated side. On the other hand, after the Renaissance the monkey was viewed as being associated with the idea of freedom, which could include these representations in the same context. It should be said that this panel was one of the most profane commissions of 17th century Portuguese azulejos, made for Quinta de Santo António da Cadriceira, Turcifal, Torres Vedras, a nucleus that has not reached us in its entirety today and is currently scattered. From a study by Sílvia Seixas we know that this quinta belonged to Henrique Henriques de Miranda, Chamberlain of D. Afonso VI (r.1656-1683) and Lieutenant-General of Artillery of the Kingdom. Now, from the will of Manuel Francisco, drawn up on 3 March 1667 (IAN/TT, Registo Geral de Testamentos, Livro 23, fls. 51v to 52v), we also know that Henrique Henriques de Miranda and the Count of Castelo Melhor owed money to this master in painted pottery. If we admit that the debt concerned an order of azulejos, we might consider the possibility that as far as Henrique Henriques de Miranda was concerned, these were panels for his quinta de Santo António da Cadriceira. In that sense, it will be possible to match a very important collection of 17th century azulejos to a contemporary Lisbon workshop. This set also includes the Leopard Hunt, also part of the Museum collection (MNAz, Inv. 137 Az).

Details

  • Title: Singerie: the chicken’s wedding
  • Creator: Pottery of Manuel Francisco (?)
  • Date Created: 1660/1667
  • Physical Location: MNAz, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 149 cm x 335 cm
  • Provenance: Quinta de Santo António da Cadriceira, Turcifal, Torres Vedras. Donation, Celeste and Victor Cinetti Batalha Reis, 1946
  • Type: Glazed tiles
  • Medium: Polychrome faience

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