Just like the other collections at this museum, the group of paintings housed at the Museu do Caramulo under the general title of “old paintings” is fairly diverse. The various contingencies and circumstances under which the collection was put together in the extraordinary space of time of only four years (1953-1957), with what is best described as an almost fatalistic urgency, determined the specific features of the choice.  In Portugal, at that time, there still persisted the hierarchical separation of the arts into one or other of two categories, major or minor. Amongst the first group, painting occupied the leading position. And within the category of old painting, there were some periods that were preferred to others.

St. Jerome (1525) by Frei Carlos (attrib.)Museu do Caramulo

By another stroke of chance, there exists in this collection a group of paintings that were all conceivably produced around the year 1525. Amongst this number is a St. Jerome painted by Frei Carlos, a St. John the Baptist by Vasco Fernandes (the famous Grão Vasco), and pictures by two other painters who worked in Bruges and Antwerp, two northern European cities with which the Portuguese maintained close relations during the period of the Discoveries, because of the trading posts that they had established there

St. John the Baptist (1525) by Vasco Fernandes "Grão Vasco"Museu do Caramulo

Saint Bernardino of Siena (1511/1520) by Quentin MetsysMuseu do Caramulo

One of these artists is Quentin Metsys, of whose work the Museu do Caramulo has an extremely beautiful example in the form of a portrait of St. Bernardino of Siena.

Pietà and Deposition of Christ in the Tomb (1540) by Fernão GarciaMuseu do Caramulo

And, finally, with a later date, but also capable of being included in the group of the so-called “Portuguese primitives,” there is the Deposition of Christ in the Tomb, classified in 1957 as being the work of Garcia Fernandes, although now, in this catalogue, it is finally concluded that it is the work of Fernão Garcia.

Investiture of St. Ildephonsus (16th century) by 16th-century Castilian workshop of Juan de BorgoñaMuseu do Caramulo

Escaping this categorisation are three painted panels whose origin would seem to be close to that of the paintings produced by the Spanish workshops. Two of them form a pair, because of their size and similar shape – semicircular at the top – and their pictorial identity. TheInvestiture of St. Ildephonsus and the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian are close to the style of Juán de Borgoña, but at the level of architectural ornaments they already display references to a more “old-fashioned” style.

Martyrdom of St. Sebastian (16th century) by 16th-century Castilian workshop of Juan de BorgoñaMuseu do Caramulo

St. Ursula (16th century) by Castilian workshopMuseu do Caramulo

A third panel, which is now mutilated and reduced in relation to its original dimensions and whose painting work is a depiction of St. Ursula, has been classified as Castilian, although in its specific features it denotes a clear Flemish influence.

Nativity (Unknown) by Rafael RomeroMuseu do Caramulo

There are also paintings that, because of the knowledge we now have today, lie outside the chronological parameters of the period of the “primitives” – 1450-1550 – but which, at the time when the Caramulo collection was put together, were still considered capable of being included in this period. All the works painted on wooden panels, showing good technical quality in their execution and with an “old flavour,” were classified as such. The results of the research work of Martin Soria or Adriano de Gusmão were still to published, and these authors were subsequently to separate the pictures produced in the second half of the 16th century from the paintings of the “Portuguese primitives.”

Baptismo of Christ (1550) by Diogo de ContreirasMuseu do Caramulo

Even more distant in time were the scientific advances made by researchers such as Vítor Serrão and Joaquim Caetano, who were able to rigorously establish names for certain legendary painters, previously only recorded by memorialists. Perhaps because of this lack of knowledge, paintings such as the Baptism of Christ by Diogo de Contreiras or the “moralesque” Virgin and Child were included in this collection

Virgin and Child (1515/1520) by Luis MoralesMuseu do Caramulo

Portrait of a magistrate displaying the Cross of Christ (1731) by Henry PickeringMuseu do Caramulo

Another of the periods considered as “major” by the art historiography of the New State was that of the Restoration. However, the group of paintings from that time that is included in the Caramulo collection is rather a poor one. There are none of the powerful and phantasmagorical full-length portraits that the great families of the Portuguese Restoration commissioned to mark the re-establishment of their privileges. Instead of this, there is just a half-length portrait of a sullen-looking Magistrate proudly displaying the Cross of the Order of Christ, although this was painted by an English artist who signed it with his name, Henry Pickering, in 1731.

St. John the Baptist (Unknown) by Avelar Rebelo (attrib.)Museu do Caramulo

A St. John the Baptist, of pubescent age – wrapped in a bright red cloak that contrasts with the sombre green of the landscape in which the saint sits gathering water from a fountain in a scallop shell – has light effects that were greatly cherished by baroque painting, one of whose greatest exponents in Portugal was Avelar Rebelo, the court painter of Dom João IV.

Marie de Médicis (1610) by Frans Pourbus "The Younger"Museu do Caramulo

An international baroque taste is displayed by two other paintings in the Fundação Abel de Lacerda collection: the hierarchical Portrait of Marie de Médicis; and the picture that is one of the best old paintings in the collection, signed by Jacob Jordaens and dated 1638, depicting Vertumnus and Pomona.

Vertumnus and Pomona (1638) by Jacob JordaensMuseu do Caramulo

Holy Face (17th century) by UnknownMuseu do Caramulo

Faced with the baroque grandeur of this canvas, one almost overlooks the strange painting of a Holy Face, painted on leather and thus attributed to the Cordoba workshops.

Jacob's Dream (1648/1649) by After Domenico FettiMuseu do Caramulo

The panorama of the favourite periods of mid-20th century art criticism would not be complete if we did not include the art produced under the reign of the “glorious and magnanimous king.” In view of the shortage of easel paintings that could be included in the collection, attention was directed towards drawings. Two works by Francisco Vieira Lusitano – a Portuguese painter from the reign of Dom João V who rivalled the best Roman painters of his time – are part of the Caramulo collection.

The Holy Trinity with allegory (Unknown) by Francisco Vieira LusitanoMuseu do Caramulo

One of these drawings, as a finished work, was made in sanguine and bears the artist’s signature in the place where the cross of the Order of St. James is displayed, depicting The Holy Trinity with a complicated allegory relating to the religious orders. It was thanks to a prosaic interpretation of this allegory that the specialists from the mid-20th century designated the drawing through the proverb “he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord.”

Louis XIV (1st quarter of 18th century) by After Hyacinthe RigaudMuseu do Caramulo

In order to fill in the gap in the collection with regard to 18th-century art, attention was turned towards the French cultural horizon that had long imposed its rules at the level of national taste. Forming part of this general taste for things foreign, dictated by the worldly French pomp, is an ostentatious Portrait of Louis XIV.

Esther faints before Ahasuerus (1785) by Luis Paret y AlcázarMuseu do Caramulo

Already in the field of rococo aesthetics are the painting by Luis Paret y Alcázar, depicting Esther fainting before Ahasuerus, which, despite being Spanish in origin, fits perfectly into the category of the purest courtly taste for rocaille works in the French style.

Landscape (Unknown) by Jean PillementMuseu do Caramulo

However strange it may seem, in Paret’s painting, the specialists consider his passage through Lisbon to have been crucial for apprehending the French taste. It is thought that his familiarity with the painting of Pillement, who spent some time here, changed everything in his own painting. The collection of the Museu do Caramulo contains a recently-donated Landscape by this latter artist.

Nude (Unknown) by Domenico PelligriniMuseu do Caramulo

Domenico Pellegrini also spent some time here between 1803 and 1810, leaving amongst us countless portraits of the most illustrious Portuguese families. In his industrious career, he made several academic studies, of which the Nude of the Caramulo collection is an example. Pellegrini left Portugal under a cloud of suspicion as far as the Crown was concerned. This attitude was certainly due to the fact that the painter was a supporter of liberal ideas.

Invocation (1812/1814) by Domingos António de SequeiraMuseu do Caramulo

The romantic positions adopted in relation to the convulsions of the civil war that opposed Miguelists to Liberals, together with the new ideas arriving from beyond the Pyrenees, were another feature that greatly excited mid 20th-century scholars. The controversial figure of Domingos António Sequeira was seen as the most perfect image of this period. His artistic expressiveness, with hints of pre-Romanticism and a markedly individualistic attitude, won him supporters even amongst the more nationalistic factions. This artist’s work had inevitably to be represented in the museum’s collection. There are three of Sequeira’s works at the Museu do Caramulo: two drawings and a painting. This latter work is undoubtedly the most important. It is an Invocation painted by the artist at a dramatic moment in his life, in which his self-representation is part of a context for the externalisation of the creator’s deepest traumas.

Study for the "Descent from the Cross" (1827) by Domingos António de SequeiraMuseu do Caramulo

One of the drawings is a modello, or a rough sketch, in which Sequeira puts down on paper the first impressions of what would later become the Descent from the Cross of the famous series of paintings that he produced for the Palmela family.

Portrait of Dom Manuel de Serpa Machado (1821) by Domingos António de SequeiraMuseu do Caramulo

The other is the Portrait of Manuel de Serpa Machado. This is a finished drawing that we can include in the gallery of portraits of the members of the Constituent Assembly.

George Gordon Noel Byron (Lord Byron?) (1810) by John Watson Gordon (attrib.)Museu do Caramulo

The wish to have a group marked by the presence of romantic figures and especially their literary affirmation easily led to the identification of a portrait of a young man as being that of Lord Byron.

Portrait of Francisco António da Silva Mendes da Fonseca (1800/1807) by José de Almeida Furtado "O Gata"Museu do Caramulo

However, the male figure that is now identified as Francisco António da Silva Mendes da Fonseca is in fact the most eloquent image of the new generation of Portuguese romanticism.

Portrait of a lady by Vicente López PortañaMuseu do Caramulo

Being drawn from another panorama and originating from outside the national context is a Portrait of a Lady, signed and dated in the bottom left-hand corner by the Spanish artist Vicente Lopez Portaña in 1834.

Descent from the Cross (Unknown) by Maurício José do Carmo SendimMuseu do Caramulo

Also inevitably lying outside this classification, because of the conservativeness of its models and the pictorial proposition that it presents, is the Descent from the Cros by Maurício José do Carmo Sendim.

Study for "History" (1893) by António Teixeira LopesMuseu do Caramulo

One must, however, include the Study for “History” by Teixeira Lopes in another universe altogether, even though, because of the drawing’s somewhat academic characteristics, it might be said to mark the transition between ancient art and contemporaneity.

Young Japanese Man (1620) by UnknownMuseu do Caramulo

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