The royal couple
Shortly before the unification of Italy in 1866, Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (1847-1911), daughter of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, married King Luís I of Portugal (1847-1911), and occupied her new royal residence in 1862.
Queen Maria Pia's arrival at the Tagus river (1863) by Joao Pedroso Gomes da SilvaNational Palace of Ajuda
This painting of Queen Maria Pia's arrival in Lisbon in 1862 the day before her wedding, bears witness to the importance of this marriage...
...on the ship transporting the queen, the corvette Bartolomeu Dias the flags of Portugal and Italy were raised.
The event drew thousands of on-lookers and Lisbon society.
In the background the National Palace of Ajuda the future home of Queen Maria Pia of Savoy.
Settling into the palace life
As soon as the Queen started living in the Ajuda National Palace, she undertook a series of interior decoration and renovation works. Strongly influenced by the french taste, chiefly by Napoleon III, she envisioned new eclectic setups, especially adopting the embodied styles of Louis XV and Louis XVI.
While living in Portugal, Queen Maria Pia never lost contact with other members of the Savoy family. She travelled extensively, visited the city of Venice in 1888, 1900 and 1901, and after walking in the Salviati and Compagnia Venezia Murano house, she bought the major part of the collection that's now in National Palaces of Ajuda, Sintra and Queluz.
An eclectic collection un-matched in Portugal
This collection is an illustration of the technical and stylistic characteristics of Muranese glass production of the second half of the 19th century, and beginning of the 20th century. Therefore, in this collection a variety of blown and mould-blown glasswork can be found which prevailed in Venice during this period.
Footed bowl (1866/1901) by MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda
A myriad of styles and techniques
Under the Historicist Muranese Revival of the dominant eclectic taste, fantasy and exuberance dominated. To create such an effect polychromy was deployed, with the use of warm and cool colours...
Murano glass pitcher with decorative lions heads (1862/1900) by Compagnia Venezia MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda
...and natural tones mixed, such as the colour of amethyst and fumé (smoky gray hue).
Moreover, decorative techniques were used, such as the gilding (cold or fire-gilding: in the first case a gold leaf is applied to the surface, in the second gold powder is sprinkled into the batch), the enamelling, the filigree in its many variegations, the "aventurina", the "mezza-stampaura" and the "incalmo".
Dragon-stem 'tazza' (1880) by Fratelli Toso (attrib.)National Palace of Ajuda
In the collection there are also glassworks ornamented with dragons, dolphins, flowers and leaves, pearls, winged horses, blackberry appliqués, masks and lions (the symbol of the city of Venice) can be found - a summary of the whole repertoire of beloved 19th century styles and icons.
Tazza' with dragonsNational Palace of Ajuda
Vase (1877/1901) by Companhia de Veneza MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda
Glass dolphin decorated with gold dust (19th century) by G & L SalviatiNational Palace of Ajuda
by Companhia de Veneza MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda
by Testolini (attrib.)National Palace of Ajuda
Jug with serpent (Late 19th century) by G & L SalviatiNational Palace of Ajuda
(1870/1896) by Slaviati & Co. (?), Testollini (?), Companhia de Veneza Murano (?), and Artisti Barovier & Co. (?)National Palace of Ajuda
High-end glass for all purposes
Among the Ajuda National Palace's decorative glass objects are several bowls and jugs, and tableware, a mirror and a chandelier.
Finger bowl set (1901/1903) by Companhia de Veneza MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda
Goblet (1866/1883) by Salviati & Co.National Palace of Ajuda
One thing is certain, this is undoubtedly an exotic and unique collection, the only of its kind in Portugal!
Text & Coordination:
Maria João Botelho Muniz Burnay, Glass Curator, Palácio Nacional da Ajuda
Rosa Barovier Mentasti, Murano Glass Specialist
Luis Ramos Pinto (Direção Geral do Património Cultural)