Take a seat, please!

Portuguese furniture in the collection of Anastásio Gonçalves

By Anastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

The section of Portuguese furniture is the largest part of the collection and it allows us to take a wide comprehensive look at the national production between the late 17th century and early 19th century. The collector showed a clear preference for this period, with an evident fondness for low and finely carved, highly plastic work produced from rosewood and constituting the seating furniture a fairly representative sample.

Armchair (1680/1730) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Portuguese japanning 

Dark green was
one of the colours that was most appreciated at the time, together with black
and orangish-red, being frequently used in Portuguese japanning decorated with
landscapes, birds, figures and Chinese motifs, highlighted in gold and black,
sometimes fairly stylized and fanciful, in an attempt to imitate Oriental
lacquers, a fashion that spread over almost the whole of Europe from the late
17th century onwards, but particularly at the beginning of the following century.      

Armchair (pair)

Red and gold japanned walnut; damask silk Portugal, late 17th century/early 18th century


It is likely that these examples, despite their upholstery in embroidered silk, have had covers placed over the seat and back, on special occasions, a use that lay at the origin of the term 'cadeira de vestir' (dressing chair).

The japanning of the chair’s visible wood, in a shade of red, also made use of small gilded compositions, verging on the miniature with patterns highly stylized, either inspired by the oriental decorative repertoire – rocks, pagodas, grasshoppers and aquatic plants – or based upon European themes – leaves, floral patterns, figures dressed in European clothes, but nonetheless depicted in an oriental style, assuming the naïve and fantastic character of Portuguese japanning.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ (18th century) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Semi-commode

Dark green and gold japanned box wood; brass Portugal, mid-18th century


This piece is made from the so-called "madeira de caixa" or "madeira de caixa de assucar" (sugar-box wood), as it was also known. Around the end of the 17th century, due to the shortage of wood, began the use of Brazilian mahogany and the other kinds of wood originating from the sugar-boxes Portugal imported from that colony.

‏‏‎ Portuguese semi-commodeAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

The japanning technique is therefore based on the Chinese decorative repertoire with motifs very freely drawn, such as the somewhat stocky figures, revealing an exoticism through the representation of fauna from other areas of the world, such as the ostrich and through the assimilation of other influences, such as the string of beads on which various figures can be seen swinging, similar to the compositions of the painter Jean Pillement (1728-1808).

Couch (1750/1780) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Portuguese woodcarving   

In the third quarter of the 18th century, the Portuguese cabinetmakers dedicated themselves almost exclusively to work with solid wood, successfully drawing all manner of expressiveness from the "locally grown woods", mainly walnut, and, above all, taking advantage of the plastic qualities of rosewood. Because of these conditions and the highly-experienced joiners and carvers, it was a period that results in cabinetmaking of the highest quality, with great precision, rigor and plasticity.

Day bed

Rosewood and velvet moquette
Portugal, third quarter of the 18th century


This example continues the forms and decoration of the beds with solid wood headboards, carved and shaped at the top and crowned with plumes or shells, differing from them through the backward slope of the headboard. It belongs to the type of furniture designed for resting during the day, which comfort is offered by the mattress lined with velvet.

Portuguese armchair (18th century) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Armchair

Walnut and damask
Portugal, mid-18th century

This chair belongs to the class of English-influenced models that have a pierced back and a full splat, which, at early 18th century, began to be adopted in Portugal.

The great height of the back, the accentuated curving of the piece, taking the shape of a spoon handle, the agitated shaping of the splat and the artistic value of the carved rocaille decoration gives it a brilliance and an opulence that contrast with the more sober construction and ornamentation of most models of this type.

Corner chair (1750/1780) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Writing chair

Rosewood, mahogany and cane
Portugal, middle or third quarter of the 18th century


The type of chair designated by corner chair or study chair with a very special configuration, was introduced in Portugal in the 18th century, together with the English chairs with trapezoid backs, corresponding to the English writing chair, and intended to be used by men.

Its function is essentially linked to the business of writing and the alterations were made to provide greater comfort for the user, by placing the chair’s arms at a greater height and a better mobility for the legs, by situating at the front one of the rounded corners of the seat.

Armchair (1750/1775) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Armchair

Walnut and velvet
Portugal, third quarter of the 18th century


This type of chair was inspired upon the straight-backed fauteuils à la reine, following the decoration of French models; however the shape of the back, completely upholstered and without any visible wood may have come from Chippendale.

The carved treatment given to the back of the rim, together with its large proportions, betray the fact that it was intended to be use in ceremonial acts in which it would be seen from all sides and the excessive widening of the seats is in keeping with the fashion of panniers dresses.

Writing desk (1760/1790) by Unknown authorAnastácio Gonçalves House-Museum

Miniature bureau

Mahogany, redwood and brass
Portugal, late 18th century


This bureau like the other miniature pieces, could corresponded to models or examples produced for examination purposes for cabinetmakers.

It is remarquable for the quality of manufacture and the painstaking attention to detail, care was also taken in this example to include the secret compartment, which here has the form of a small drawer.

Now look around. Do you see the objects presented in the exhibition?

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