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The hat maker panels - detail

Real Fábrica de Louça ao Rato1790/1800

National Azulejo Museum

National Azulejo Museum
Lisbon, Portugal

This set of seven panels in the neoclassical style narrates the rise in society of a country lad who went to work at his uncle’s shop, where he learned the trade of hatter, and became very successful as a hat maker. His prosperity enabled him to build a factory at his quinta on the outskirts of Lisbon, for which he had these azulejos made, to perpetuate his story. The most important episodes in the life of the hatter António Joaquim Carneiro are thus set before our eyes in chronological order. They are set into oval medallions topped by a scroll in which each representation is explained with a caption. They are bordered in neoclassical motifs such as baskets with flowers, garlands, festoons and birds, against a white background imitating fresco painting. As opposed to the customary working methods of Portuguese azulejo painters, these panels were painted directly with no reference to engraved iconographic sources, given that this was a very specific narrative. It is precisely this aspect, as shown by the methodology employed, that makes this set paradigmatic of a time and of the social changes taking place at the time in Portugal. For the first time, a story shown on a ceramic support was not a commission by the church with hagiographic scenes, or by the nobility, with representations of battles or hunting episodes, very much to the liking of the upper classes, but centred on the life of a middle-class man, instead. It is possible that António Joaquim Carneiro may have been inspired to make this commission by the series of twelve panels of the Padrão do Senhor Roubado, in Lisbon, circa 1744, which tells the story of a robbery by a country worker called António Ferreira, the manner in which he was discovered and the punishment he was given. Effectively, the story of the life of António Joaquim Carneiro came from Quinta do Chapeleiro, Póvoa de Santo Adrião, a place near to the Padrão do Senhor Roubado, so it makes eminent sense that these panels may have been his reference.

Details

  • Title: The hat maker panels - detail
  • Creator: Real Fábrica de Louça ao Rato
  • Date Created: 1790/1800
  • Physical Location: MNAz, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 83 cm x 119 cm
  • Provenance: Quinta do Chapeleiro, Póvoa de Santo Adrião, Loures, Portugal
  • Type: Glazed tiles
  • Medium: Polychrome faience

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