Portugal Arts and Architecture from Antiquity to the 18th Century

From antiquity to the 16th century

According to listofusnewspapers, evidence of the Visigothic period, characterized by the typical horseshoe arch, can be found in the churches of S. Frutuoso de Montélios near Braga (second half 7th century, Greek cross), of S. Pedro de Balsemão near Lamego and S. Amaro in Beja. Traces of buildings dating back to the Arab period remain in the Castle dos Muros in Sintra and in the Castle of Mértola. Typical example of Mozarabic art is the church of Lourosa (10th century) in Beira Alta. A strictly Portuguese religious architecture only occurred in the Romanesque period, especially in the north-western region, already liberated from Muslim domination: initially inspired by the early Cluniac style, with a single nave with a wooden roof, it then developed into large buildings with three naves with vaulted roof (cathedrals of Braga, Porto, Coimbra, Lamego, Lisbon and Évora, 12th century), decorated with Byzantine and Visigothic inspired motifs. The Templar church in Tomar remains the only example of a building with a central plan, based on the layout of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. With the affirmation of the monastic and knightly orders (Cluniacs, Cistercians, Templars, Hospitallers, Knights of Christ) numerous architectural complexes flourished: the monasteries of Alcobaça (1152, Cistercian), of Almoster near Santarém (1289), of Odivelas (1295- 1305), of S. Chiara of Vila do Conde near Porto (founded in 1318), with stylistic elements of transition between Romanesque and Gothic; and again the cathedral of Silves near Faro and the church of S. Francesco in Porto. The sculpture, expressed by symbolic forms and popular language, was closely connected to architecture (portals, capitals): among the best known reliefs those of S. Salvador (12th century) of Bravães near Viana do Castelo. Of the Gothic period we remember the monastery of S. Maria da Vitória in Batalha (1388-1402, of Cistercian structure) with the church, designed by A. Domingues, and thecapelas imperfeitas (unfinished) by Maestro Huguet in the Manueline style. Of the sculpture of this period remain the Apostles (portal of the cathedral of Évora) and some funerary works (sarcophagi in S. Clara di Coimbra, in the cathedral of Braga, in S. Maria di Alcobaça). Painting took on its own connotation in the 15th century, under the influence of the Flemish J. van Eyck (active in Portugal in 1428); the most significant exponent was N. Gonçalves. Under the reigns of Emmanuel I and John III, G. Lopes, among others, were active, C. de Figueiredo, V. Fernandes, G. Vaz and F. Carlos.

The century of 16th – 18th

In the 16th and 17th centuries. the Plateresque style spread; alongside it, at the end of the 16th century, elements of an Italian Renaissance imprint were introduced by A. Sansovino (Coimbra, Porta Speciosa of the cathedral), F. Terzi (Tomar, interventions at the convent of the Templars) and by the Spanish D. de Torralva, who reconciled the Italian tradition with the Portuguese one (church da Graça, Évora; monastery dos Jerónimos de Belém, Lisbon; church of the Templars, 1510-14, Tomar). The contributions of some French active in S. Cruz di Coimbra were decisive in the sculpture: Portugal Houdart (Last Supper), N. Chanteraine (tombs of the first two kings of Portugal), J. Loquin (pulpit) and J. de Rouen. Francisco de Holanda wrote (1547-49) the treatise Da pentura antiga and among the painters worked J. de Óbidos and D. Vieira, who were inspired by Italian and Spanish models. The Baroque, favored by the Jesuits, was widespread under the reign of John V: notable, among other things, in Porto the Torre dos Clérigos (N. Nazoni, 1754) and, in Mafra, the convent (JF Ludwig, 1717- 30). ● Lisbon, destroyed by the earthquake (1755), was partly rebuilt on a project by E. dos Santos de Carvalho, also enriched with villas and palaces adorned with carvings, stuccos, terracotta, sculptures: the Royal Palace of Queluz (PB Robillon and MV de Oliveira, 1758-94). In Porto, among the civil works, the construction of the Aguas Livres aqueduct (1728-48) is noteworthy. Of Rococo style is the basilica of Estrela in Lisbon. Among the sculptors: C. Laprade and A. Giusti; J. Almeida (pupil in Rome by C. Monaldi), JJ de Aguiar (pupil of Canova) and J. Machado de Castro, known for terracotta nativity scenes. Decorations in carved and gilded wood (talha dourada), colored majolica (azulejos) and reliefs in clay and wood (monastery of S. Maria, Alcobaça), embellished the interiors of churches and palaces. Among the painters, Vieira De Matos (Vieira Lusitano), also author of sanguine and etchings.

Portugal Arts and Architecture