Glassware fit for a queen

Muranese glassware in the Portuguese Royal House

By National Palace of Ajuda

Royal throne from the period of King. D João V (18th century)National Palace of Ajuda

A unique royal collection

The glass collection of Ajuda includes about 13,000 objects from the preeminent European centres of which about about 600 are Muranese pieces, mostly acquired during the period that King Luís and Queen Maria Pia of Savoy inhabited the Ajuda National Palace.

‏‏‎ Portrait of Queen Maria Pia of Savoy, Michele Gordigiani, From the collection of: National Palace of Ajuda
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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.

‏‏‎ Portrait of D. Luis, Michele Gordigiani, From the collection of: National Palace of Ajuda
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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.

Italian roots

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.

Adorned aspersorium (19-20th centuries) by Companhia de Veneza MuranoNational Palace of Ajuda

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. (?)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!

Credits: Story

Text & Coordination:

Maria João Botelho Muniz Burnay, Glass Curator, Palácio Nacional da Ajuda

Rosa Barovier Mentasti, Murano Glass Specialist

Digital Production:

Luis Ramos Pinto (Direção Geral do Património Cultural)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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