The leopard hunt

Pottery of Manuel Francisco (?)1650/1675

National Azulejo Museum

National Azulejo Museum
Lisbon, Portugal

17th century azulejos displayed the Portuguese taste for the exoticism encountered in distant lands revealed through maritime expansion as an adjunct to the Mannerist taste for the "irrational" and the exotic. Following the Restoration of the Portuguese monarchy in 1640, the nobility became the main commissioner of figurative azulejos with profane themes, to decorate palatial spaces both in Lisbon and in the country, reflecting the taste and the daily life of this social group which had from the start conducted the maritime voyages and the overseas conquests. This panel of azulejos depicts a leopard hunt and came from Quinta de Santo António da Cadriceira in Torres Vedras. It is a perfect example of the work of the imaginative artisans working in 17th century Lisbon potteries and also of the interests of their commissioners, displaying the natural fusion of cultural European traditions with the strange and fascinating realities of the new worlds encountered. Azulejo painters often worked from engraved iconographic sources, in this case two engravings of the series Venationes Ferarum, Avium, Piscium, printed in 1580 and 1596 by Philippe Galle from drawings by Johannes Stradanus. In this hunting scene, which was quite accurately copied from the original engraving, various kinds of traps were used: in the foreground there is a trap with a mirror, which appears to be successful in capturing the female. But there is an alteration to the source of inspiration. The European soldiers were replaced by indigenous people crowned with feathers likes the Indians in Brazil.


  • Title: The leopard hunt
  • Creator: Pottery of Manuel Francisco (?)
  • Date Created: 1650/1675
  • Physical Location: MNAz, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 150 cm x 189.5 cm
  • Provenance: Quinta de Santo António da Cadriceira, Turcifal, Torres Vedras
  • Medium: Polychrome faience

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