Painting as time goes by

Devotional paintings, portraits and landscapes from the collection of Machado de Castro National Museum

Emperor Heraclius bearing the Holy Cross (1522 – 1530 A.D.) by Cristovão de FigueiredoMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

The painting collection of this Museum comprises works dating from the XVth to the XXth century. The paintings originate, mainly, from the convents of the city and its environs, which accounts for their predominately religious themes. The exceptions are some works from the XVIIIth and the following centuries, acquired in part, but mostly the result of donations.

Virgin and Child-Morales (1550-1586 A.D.) by Luis de MoralesMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Devotional painting

Our Lady of the Rose (15th century) by Unknown authorMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

The most consensual date for this work links it to the first half of the 15th century, it is therefore the earliest painting in the Museum.

The main characteristics of Portuguese painting surviving from the 15th century are evident here: the theme of the Virgin in Majesty; vibrant colors, with strong contrasts and lack of perspective.

Executed in tempera on chestnut panel, the painting is, undoubtedly, from a workshop in the Coimbra region. The theme of the rose, from the pagan cult of Esther, was popular in the Lower Mondego region until the 15th century, appearing in several sculptures in stone from Ançã. In the late 16th century, probably due to dogmatic reasons following the Council of Trent, this work received another pictorial composition which was later removed.

Triptych of St. Claire (15th century) by Unknown authorMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This altarpiece triptych, painted in tempera and oil, displays qualities of modelling and composition that are rarely found in Portuguese 15th century painting. It clearly shows the influence of contemporary Castilian painting together with Flemish characteristics, which, for example, can be seen in the treatment of the background perspective and the outlining of the buildings.

On the central panel, St. Claire and the Miracle of the Monstrance. The resurrected Christ transubstantiated in the Host drives away the infidels. The predella depicts The Last Supper.

Triptych of the Passion of Christ (16th century) by Quentin MetsysMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Commissioned by King Manuel I and executed in Antwerp by Quentin Metsys between 1514 and 1517, this triptych still preserves its lateral panels and a fragment of the central panel.

The interior portrayed the Crucifixion of Christ in the centre, whilst the humiliation inflicted on him by the Romans (The Flagellation) and by the Jews (Ecce Homo) occupied the lateral panels.

Virgin and Child (16th century) by Adriaen IsenbrantMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Bishop Jorge de Almeida almost certainly acquired this small tondo from Flanders for his Palace. The artist, Adriaen Isenbrant, was one of the most famous painters of the Bruges school.

The atmospheric perspective, beautifully executed through the gradation of the shades of blue and the delicate glazing on the veil, was made technically possible only by the use of oil as a binder.

The Adoration of the Magi (16th cent., 1st quarter) by Manuel VicenteMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Despite the fact that this panel is from the 16th century polyptych from the Convento de Santa Maria de Celas, it displays the most remarkable characteristics of the gothic painture: the exhaustive reliance on gold leaf in the halo and the realistic portrayal of contemporary goldsmithery. The concentration of figures in a reduced space, the treatment of the garments and the the anatomies, all reveal this to be a work from the Coimbra workshop, founded by Vicente Gil.

Emperor Heraclius bearing the Holy Cross (1522 – 1530 A.D.) by Cristovão de FigueiredoMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This oil painting on an oak panel belonged to the grand altarpiece by Cristovão de Figueiredo for the main altar of the Monastery of Santa Cruz, and was commissioned by King Manuel but only finished nine years later during the reign of King João III.

The story of the Emperor Heraclius bearing the Cross in a procession is one of the many of the iconographic themes related to portrayals of the Holy Cross. The foreshortening of the figure in the foreground shows an awareness of the engravings of Durer.

St. Cosme and St. Damian (16th cent., 2nd quarter) by Garcia FernandesMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Possibly dated from 1530–32, the iconography on this panel portrays something very similar to the description of the life and miracles of two physician brothers, martyred in the 3rd century. The Golden Legend (ca. 1275) describes this posthumous miracle: the vestry-keeper of a church in Rome had gangrenous leg; whilst he slept, the Saints cured him by amputating the offending member, replacing it with that of a recently buried Ethiopian.

Queen St. Isabel (Mid-16th cent.) by Unknown authorMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This small altarpiece of Queen Saint Isabel painted on wood comes from the Monastery of Celas in Coimbra. Considered to be the first Portuguese ex-voto, it was commissioned by Martin de Azpilcueta to thank the Queen for curing his niece Ana, who was a nun there. Two scenes representing miracles can be seen on the right, one of which relates to the vow of the commissioner (The Miracle of the Gangrened Leg), whilst, on the left, is the outline of Renaissance Coimbra.

‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ by Garcia FernandesMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

The central panel of this triptych by Garcia Fernandes bears the date of 1531 on the entablature of the large window on the right.

Divided into two panels – which is rare in 16th century Portuguese painting – this theme frames the central one of the Apparition of Christ to the Virgin. On the interior side of the wings, the Archangel Gabriel appears in the compartment where the Virgin sits reading the prophecy of Isaiah. With the triptych closed one may observe the Quo Vadis in grisaille.

Saint Mary Magdalene (1611-1620 A.D.) by Simão Rodrigues and Domingos Vieira SerrãoMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Painting representing Saint Mary Magdalene secluded in a cave that on the right side, allows foreseeing the exterior, through the clouds over a blue sky. The Saint personalizes the sorrow and penitence, suggesting the meditation away from the world. On her right hand she holds a skull, symbol of the secular values; she gently holds her long face on her left hand, while looking towards the observer. By her side stands the vase of perfumes that might be used to anoint the feet of Christ. Her dense wig, described by the Holy Scriptures, loose and falls over her shoulders and her back, but doesn’t hide her nudity. Her right arm forms a symmetrical diagonal with the contour of the cave’s entrance. The light pointing strongly on the face of Magdalene, enhances the perfection of the lines and pearly face, highlighting her from the shadow of the background.

The Troy's fire (c. 1640 A.D.) by Diogo PereiraMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Night exterior scene, representing the Fire of Troy, arising from the struggles between Greeks and Trojans, narrated by Homer.

In an environment of shadows, strongly illuminated by flames coming from the interior of the towers, on the left stands out the colossal statue of the Trojan’s horse and a little on the right the portal of entrance in the fortress. Far from the city and in the foreground, Aeneas flees, supporting his father Anchises on his back.

Virgin and Child-Morales (1550-1586 A.D.) by Luis de MoralesMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Traditionally attributed to El Divino Luís de Morales, this painting reminds us of other works by the same artist, such as that in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, or the Hermitage, St. Petersburg. While evoking the candour and grace of the Virgins of Tenderness, of Byzantine tradition, this painting announces the destiny (symbolised by the spindle) of the Infant Christ.

The pink of the tunic and the blue of the cloak contrast and reinforce the limpid flesh tones, while the black background confers even greater dramatic effect to the scene.

Illuminated book (1592 A.D.) by Unknown authorMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This manuscript, illustrated with two illuminations - one presenting his royal coat of arms and the other with the figure of Queen Santa Isabel - speaks of the "good life that the Queen of Portugal, D. Isabel, has done, and of her good deeds and miracles in his life and after his death."

The Lactatio Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1660-1670 A.D.) by Josefa d'ÓbidosMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Oil Painting on canvas, with vertical rectangular shape, representing The Lactatio Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

The composition is pyramidal, symmetrical, representing four Cistercian friars and four nuns of the same religious order. In the middle, in an upper level, Our Lady crowned holds in her lap the Infant.

Saint Mary Magdalene (c. 1650 A.D.) by Josefa d'ÓbidosMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This delicate oil painting on copper by Josefa d’Óbidos, rich in colour despite its overall darkness, entreating the viewer to repent – penitence representing the main path to redemption in the Proto-Baroque period.

The story is that of a sinner converted by the doctrine of faith, which is revealed by the light emanating from the Crucifix. It formerly belonged to the Convent of Louriçal.

Hope and Sorrow (1864 A.D.) by Miguel Ângelo LupiMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Oil painting on canvas depicting allegorically, the feelings of Hope and Sorrow, through two female figures. According to the exhibition catalog of Miguel Lupi, this work was begun in Rome and finished in Lisbon.

Visconde da Luz Street and 8th of May Square (20th century) by Fausto SampaioMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Portraits and landscapes

The Isle of Capri (1883 A.D.) by Henrique PousãoMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

This painting, signed and dated, is one of various studies created by Henrique Pousão on the island of Capri in 1882 and 1883, of the luminous and rustic Mediterranean landscape.

With broad and vibrant brush strokes, the composition is organised on three colour planes, on which the profile of a young woman is drawn, the alacritous colouring of whom establishes a strong contrast with the surrounding aridness.

Malestroit main Street. Bretagne (1888 A.D.) by José Veloso SalgadoMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Oil painting on wood (thin board), representing a street of Malestroit, canton of the region of Bretagne. This painting is inserted in his training as a painter, showing a realistic register of the spaces and its people. Work with signature, place and date signed in the lower right corner: "Salgado / Malestroit / 7 bre 88".

Visconde da Luz Street and 8th of May Square (20th century) by Fausto SampaioMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Oil painting on canvas, representing two arteries city of the downtown of Coimbra: Visconde da Luz Street and 8th of May Square.

This painting, by the artist Fausto Sampaio, has evident late-impressionists influences and was acquired by the Museum in 1934.

Lady of the lorgnon (1895) by Columbano Bordalo PinheiroMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Oil painting on wood, depicting a female figure, half-body, inserted in a greenish background. Simultaneously it confers mystery, drama and an introspection that prepare the observer for the psychological portrait that this painting contains.

Focusing the attention on the character’s face: oblong face, with long chin, fleshy bottom lip and strangely small eyes that stare the viewer through a bezel, or "lorgnon", that she holds gently in her right gloved hand.

Le Déjeuner (1911 A.D.) by Manuel JardimMuseu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Manuel Jardim, a contemporary of Sousa Cardozo, Santa-Rita, Almada Negreiros, and other painters, was part of the first phase of Portuguese Modernism. This painting, presented at the (Paris) Salon of 1911, evokes a piece by Edouard Manet and is the most well-known and appreciated of his creations, out of a total of 424 works in various formats, using different artistic techniques.

Uncover the colours and shapes of the characters that inhabit this collection.

Credits: Story

Photo: DGPC/ADF - Photographic Documentation Archive

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