Aurélia de Sousa

Learn about the artist's universe through a text accompanied by a selection of works from the exhibition “All I want – Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020”

By Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes

Self-Portrait (c. 1895) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection José Caiado de Souza

Aurélia de Sousa was born in 1866 in Valparaíso, Chile. She later moved to Porto, Portugal, where she lived at the Quinta da China, an eighteenth-century house on the banks of the Douro, which would become the setting and studio for her countless paintings and photographs. Intimate interiors, portraits, scenes from everyday domestic life, gardens, still lifes, flowers and views of the river are all recurrent themes in her work, which is characterised by an expressive naturalism. 

Self-Portrait (c. 1895) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection José Caiado de Souza

Self-Portrait, c. 1895
Oil on canvas
36 x 26,5 cm
Collection José Caiado de Souza

In the Studio (1916) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado

In the Studio, 1916
Oil on canvas
55 × 48 cm
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado, inv. 279

Untitled (Self-Portrait) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection Pedro Aguiar-Branco

Untitled (Self-Portrait), not dated
Painted ceramic plate
ø 31,5 cm
Collection Pedro Aguiar-Branco

Rabbits story (triptych folding screen) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu da Cidade / Casa Marta Ortigão Sampaio

Her father died at a young age, and the artist had the intense and highly feminine experience of growing up in a family comprised mainly of women. Indeed, some of them, like Aurélia herself, never married or left their maternal home. The circumstances of being a woman at the turn of the 20th century and within the society of Porto, where she lived, or of Paris, where she joined the Académie Julian at the age of 30, are key to understanding de Souza’s work, the significance of which was recognised rather belatedly by Portuguese art historians.

Rabbits story (triptych folding screen) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu da Cidade / Casa Marta Ortigão Sampaio

Rabbits story (triptych folding screen), not dated
Oil on canvas mounted on fabric
177 x 53 cm (closed)
Museu da Cidade / Casa Marta Ortigão Sampaio, inv. 1978.31.0106

Study (Hands of the Artist) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis

Study (Hands of the Artist), not dated
Oil on canvas
34,3 x 30 cm
Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, inv. 706 Pin MNSR

Study for Saint Anthony (Self-Portrait) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection José Caiado de Souza

Her enigmatic, androgynous and provocative self-portraits, in which she depicts herself wearing a distinctive red coat, an outsize black bow or disguised as St. Anthony, are a historical example of a female artist asserting her identity as a creator.

Study for Saint Anthony (Self-Portrait) (not dated) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection José Caiado de Souza

Study for Saint Anthony (Self-Portrait), not dated
Photograph
16,5 x 13,5 cm
Collection José Caiado de Souza

Saint Anthony (Self-Portrait) (c. 1902) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu da Cidade / Casa Marta Ortigão Sampaio

Saint Anthony (Self-Portrait), c. 1902
Oil on canvas
189 x 99 cm
Museu da Cidade / Casa Marta Ortigão Sampaio, inv. CMMOS 1978.31.0117

Self-Portrait “with black bow” (c. 1895) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Collection José Caiado de Souza

Self-Portrait “with black bow”, c. 1895
Oil on canvas
67,5 x 47 cm
Collection José Caiado de Souza

Self-Portrait (c. 1900) by Aurélia de SousaOriginal Source: Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis

Self-Portrait, 1900
Oil on canvas
45,6 x 36,4 cm
Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, inv. 878 Pin MNSR

Credits: Story

Selection of works presented at the exhibition All I want: Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020, in its first moment at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, within the scope of the cultural program that takes place in parallel to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021.

Exhibition organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in co-production with the Center of Contemporary Creation Olivier Debré, Tours, and with the collaboration of the Plano Nacional das Artes (Portugal).

Curators:
Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand

Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes
Seleção de recursos online Maria de Brito Matias

Learn more about Aurélia de Sousa's works presented in the context of this exhibition:
All I want: Starting Point
All I want: The Place of the Artist 
All I want: The Theatre of the Body

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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