Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Museum replicas out in the streets of Lisbon, temporary exhibition; Roman remains on display; Alfama and Bairro Alto street details - The 3rd of October 2015

Having well known painting replicas out in the streets is said to have been an agreed upon initiative between the Contemporary Art Museum and the Lisbon Town Hall in what does sound like a rather open-type of approach to Art and who is (should be) entitled to it.

Despite the fac that one of the replicas was stolen just a few days into the exhibition and another one was severely damaged in what very much looked like a frustrated attempt at having it cut off the frame I still believe the idea behind this initiative was (is) good, should the potential viewers be responsible enough to respect Art, whether they understand it or not, like it or dislike it prior to or even after having been exposed to it.
Mia and I started following the suggested circuit somewhere around the Príncipe Real area having come across the first two paintings, one by Pieter Grebber (c.1600-1653) depicting a wealthy Dutch family, whose identity is unknown, though the way they have been represented may lead us to assume their source of income is intimately connected to leisure hunting within their property and the other one by an unknown Spanish artist representing the suffering of Saint Sebastian, being considered one of the most remarkable Baroque 17th century oil on canvas paintings pertaining to the National Museum of Ancient Art' s collection.

We soon came across two more paintings by the Elevador da Glória, a rather interesting 1657 oil on canvas painting by Filipe Lobo named View of the Belém beach and the Monastery of Jerónimos, depicting the South façade of the Monastery before having undergone works, which significantly changed its façade. The smaller painting which stood just a few centimetres from it is by Pieter Brueghel, the younger (1564-1638), Benefactory deeds, on the poverty situation in the 17th century in Flanders and believed to have been made as an encouraging appeal to charity. 

We then walked into the inner Bairro Alto streets in search of some more paintings, having come across a 17th century still-life and a basket with fruit by Antonio Pereda y Salgado (1608-1678), whose importance seems to be linked to the artistry and skillful approach to the theme.

The next two paintings were portraits - Man with the pipe by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) considered among the best painted by one of the founders of the 18th century "Realism", and the Courtesan by Jacob Adriaenz Backer (1608-1651) reknown for his portraits and mythological scenes.

The Martyrdom of Saint Vicent (1470) by Nuno Gonçalves is said to have been one of the first nude paintings to be done in the history of Art in Portugal. The canvas was part of the altar piece in the Lisbon Cathedral depicting scenes taken from the life of the city's patron.

As we were heading towards Praça Camões we came across the imposing image of Dom Sebastião, a 1571 oil on canvas by Cristovão de Morais depicting the 16 year old King and Knight in a preciously shining armour soon after having obtained his reigning position. It is considered the best 16th century painting of King Dom Sebastião, whose image will always be associated to one of most significant Portuguese myths.

By an unknown Iberian master - Portrait of a lady (1620-1640), clearly a portrait of ostentation was beside another portrait, the one of Margarida Gonzaga (1593) by Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1626) said to have been considered the official portrait of the Duchesse of Ferrara. I must say they were both quite impressive to look at.

Looking rather "isolated" a Lucas Cranach, the elder (1472-1553) painting, which had been cut through with a sharp object on the left side close to the frame. Salomé holding St. John the Baptist's decapitated head highlights the fact that evil can walk alongside beauty.

A bit further down Rua do Alecrim the portraits of Dom Afonso de Albuquerque and Dom Francisco de Almeida, 2nd and 1st Viceroys of the former Portuguese India respectively painted by two unknown artists in c. 1545.

We finally headed towards Teatro de São Carlos square where two religious paintings were being exhibited, one by Hans Holbein, the elder (1460-1524) depicting the Virgin Mary with child Jesus and some Saints and Our Lady of the sorrows by Quentin Metsys (1466-1530), an admirable sacred gathering of attired saintly martyrs around the Virgin and the child. 

As we headed back towards Chiado we came across one last painting (though not the last of the 31 being exhibited), this time by Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746), a portrait of Monsieur de Noirmont.

Being an art lover I did enjoy strolling around the city "re-visiting" some of the paintings I had already seen during some of my regular visits to Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, but if I put myself in the shoes of many of those who are not keen on Art or have no access to Art exhibitions I am not sure these would be the paintings I would like to see.

 I am not saying they were not well sellected  for public display but bearing in mind the Portuguese public main interests I'd have sellected paintings that would possibly ressonate with them in a different way, as far as visual (aesthetic and thematic) impact goes, by having portraits or paintings that might almost inevitably lead the majority of passers-by to want to further develop their curiosity in artistic (and even historic) terms.

I may be totally wrong but I don't believe the exhibited paintings have had (will have) that effect (though I haven't been made aware of what the underlying intention of the exhibition was) and irrespective of my personal opinion it will always be (have been) a praiseworthy initiative.

We soon joined Beatriz to go up the Castle area so as to visit the Roman ruins now open to the public. The remains of a Roman Theatre constructed in the 1st  century AD are said to have emerged during the reconstruction of the capital city in the aftermath of the 1755 earthquake.

We ended up our cultural day circuit at a open air café not before having taken quite a few photos of either interesting details or views throughout the streets of the old quarters of Alfama and Bairro Alto.


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