Long Description: Seven studies and their respective captions, written by hand on the sheet, identify six members of the Portuguese royal family: Regent Prince João, his wife Carlota Joaquina, Princesses Maria Teresa and Maria Isabel, Prince and heir António Pio and Prince Pedro de Alcântara. Furthermore, one of the nannies to baby Pedro is also featured.
These small scale preparatory studies perhaps form part of a series of sketches made by Sequeira for a group portrait of the Royal Family. The study of the baby prince, the only full body portrait here, contains the following text: “S. A. R. / o Infante D Pedro / de Alcântara / que creio ser o mais / pequeno Príncipe / da Família” [H. R. H. / Prince Pedro / de Alcantara / who I believe to be / the smallest Prince / in the Family]. Whether these outlines then served as the basis for future paintings or engravings remains unknown.
In the study, Pedro (1798-1834) appears to be around one year of age and hence the study was probably completed shortly before the painter began his residence at the Cartuxa de Laveiras, which he left in around 1800 and prior to his nomination as the First Painter to the Council and the Court in 1802, a date subsequent to the death of António Pio, the prince also present in this curious document.
Returning to Lisbon in November or December of 1795, following a brilliant education in Rome, the young Sequeira soon came into contact with the royal family and the court. His strategy to approximate the elite of his time certainly involved submitting his diplomas and the awards won to those who had financed his international studies: Queen Maria I and the Prince Regent João, future King João VI. In mid-December 1795, João granted the painter a lifetime pension of 60 moedas annually along with other benefits.
ABOUT DOMINGOS ANTÓNIO DE SEQUEIRA
This Portuguese painter spanned the transition from Neoclassicism to Romanticism as the 18th century gave way to the 19th century.
In Lisbon, he attended the Public Drawing Class given by Joaquim Manuel da Rocha. He subsequently joined the workshop of Francisco de Setúbal and, in 1788, set off for Rome with a stipend from Queen Maria I, where he visited pinacotecas and copied masterpieces and painted portraits.
On the advice of João Pinto da Silva, jeweller to the queen and his interlocutor in court, he gave the monarch a copy of "Saint Mary Magdalene" by Guido Reni. This painting first gets referenced in the Inventory made in 1833 and listed as on display in the Oratory to the Don Quixote Room. Currently, the work is on display in the Palace of Queluz.