It is with some surprise that we can see some mistakes in the Latin phrases on the tile panels in the rooms of the Espírito Santo College, in Évora, and on the mathematical theorems in the tiles of the Santo Antão-o-Novo College, in Lisbon.
For example, in Évora, in the poetics classroom, the pictural representation of the lyrical poetry genre was accompanied by verses “Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres, Sublimi feriam sidera vertice” from Horace, in which the dative form of the word poet (vatibus) became “vahbus”. In another panel, the allegory of painting (Pictura) was labeled as “pichera”.
In the Aula da Esfera, in Lisbon, it was a theorem of the Greek mathematician Archimedes about the proportionality of solids that underwent some unwanted changes. The tile painter inverted the order of the geometric solids of the manual of Andrea Taquet, drawing the cone inside a cylinder and both circumscribed by a circle.
If we take into account that the teaching of the two languages was a primary objective in each of the colleges, we can only assume these were errors of the painters, who were unable to transpose the indications of the iconographer. Both cases denote the lack of scholarly studies that were not part of the training of the tile painters, who learned in the old workshop regime, only by experience.
Of course, these mistakes indicate a failure of the Society of Jesus in supervising the work, since they contracted the master tile but did not interact directly with the tile painter.
As the tile panels were not meant to be used as teaching material during classes and worked as a set to identify the leading purposes of the institution, it was easy to end up accepting these small imperfections.
GESSNER, Samuel & LEITÃO, Henrique. Una tribus ratio: Ikonographie der Wissensvermittlung und Selbstdarstellung der Jesuiten im Mathematiksaal des Kollegs Santo Antão in Lissabon. Math Semesterber, 62, 1–6 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00591-014-0138-0.