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Art

The Celebration of Wisdom in the Colégio do Espírito Santo

In 1675, there was a complete transformation of the inner space of the University of Évora Great Hall.

In 1675, there was a complete transformation of the inner space of the University of Évora Great Hall, with the representation, on the walls, of the six sciences taught by the University’s professors: Scholastic Theology, Moral Theology, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Poetry and Grammar, with their identifying symbols.

The rector Manuel Luís also ordered the painting of the portraits of kings and Jesuit professors, and the craft of a new throne.

On the ceiling, Francisco Lopes “the lame” painted a vast set of emblems where the planets and constellations, with the help of biblical verses and pagan poets, symbolized the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

New multicolored tiles were additionally bought in the potteries of Lisbon for the decoration of the walls. According to the Jesuit historian Manuel Fialho, who witnessed the working progress, there was a small contest among several drawings, and the author of the winning idea received a fair reward.

University of Évora Aula Magna © Jaime Silva
University of Évora Aula Magna. © Jaime Silva.

In this decorative program, with the depiction of angels, mascarons, and massive rolls of acanthus leaves, the tiles added a note of modernity and festivity to the scholarly iconographic program of the paintings on the ceiling and high walls.

Today, the brilliant and exquisite design of the tiles and stucco pilasters is a small memory of the lush decoration of the Aula Magna, where the Jesuits attended the defense of the most famous doctoral dissertations and performed the University of Évora main public events.

ESSENTIAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

MENDEIROS, José Felipe. Os azulejos da Universidade de Évora. The Tiles of the University of Evora. Évora: Universidade de Évora, 2002.

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