Art Literature

The Gallant Palace

The presence of a polite, well-dressed, and well-educated society is an essential complement to noble architecture.

D. Francisco de Portugal, in his book Arte de galantería, when praising the moments of meetings and parties in court, reminds us that the palaces of kings and nobility are the place of expression and improvement of social life. Without a polite conduct, a noble house loses its true essence:

Going to the antechamber at night, after being the entertainer, is a discipline of speeches, where politeness is challenged, discreetness is refined, messages are sent, poetry themes are made, verses are repeated, and parties are arranged. That is what ennobles the house of kings, who, not being accompanied by the nobility, have nothing great.

Nobleman standing with his sword, plumed hat, ruff, jerkin, breeches, and boots. Jacques Callot, c. 1620-1623 © Rijksmuseum.
Nobleman standing with his sword, plumed hat, ruff, jerkin, breeches, and boots. Jacques Callot, c. 1620-1623 © Rijksmuseum.

Courtiers are so crucial to the brilliance of courtly life in palaces that there is no outstanding praise than being recognized as a perfect knight, as the author himself, with little modesty, insists on divulging:

That is not of little estimation that, at times, their Highnesses were heard: «Only when Don Francisco de Portugal is in Madrid does this looks like a palace».

Young woman elegantly dressed, with the left hand in a muff and the right on the hip. Jacques Callot, c. 1620-1623 © Rijksmuseum.

The entrance that opens onto the large garden of Quinta dos Marqueses de Fronteira depicts several knights and ladies of the Duchy of Lorraine, copying the majestic engravings of Jacques Callot, a native of the territory. Despite the troubled period of war, the nobility of the duchy enjoyed a reputation for dressing with great gallantry, with men exquisitely attired with feathers, ribbons and rosettes on their shoes, and women with lace ornaments in their hair and pearls necklaces.

Using a conventional literary device, the minor panels under the windows depict men and women drinking, smoking, and behaving licentiously. They are what D. Francisco de Portugal would call civility offences, and they enhance, by antinomy, the Marqueses de Fronteira’s courteous life.


NEVES, José Cassiano. The palace and gardens of Fronteira: seventeenth and eighteenth century Portuguese style. 3rd rev. ed. by Vera Mendes and Fernando Mascarenhas. Photography by Nicolas Sapieha. Lisboa: Quetzal Editores, 1995. ISBN 978-0935748987.

PORTUGAL, D. Francisco de. Arte de galantería. Edição e notas de José Adriano de Freitas Carvalho. Porto: Centro Inter-Universitário de História da Espiritualidade, 2012.

CORREIA, Ana Paula Rebelo. Histoires en azulejos: Miroir et mémoire de la gravure européenne. Louvain: Université Catholique de Louvain, 2005.

Lisbon, Quinta dos Marqueses de Fronteira

6 replies on “The Gallant Palace”

Bom Dia Celso,

Olhando para a data das gravuras e o estilo do azulejo, pergunto se estes poderiam ser anteriores ao período em qua propriedade foi comprada e reformada pelo Conde da Torre, c. 1670?



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Há balizas cronológicas muito claras para o conjunto, realizado entre os anos de 1669-1673: a visita do Cosimo de Médicis, a atribuição do título de Marquês de Fronteira, o inventário da Condessa D. Madalena de Castro, o casamento do D. Fernando Mascarenhas, 2º Marquês de Fronteira, etc… O Palácio, os jardins e, claro, também os azulejos são um programa de elogio aos vencedores da Guerra da Restauração, em particular dos marqueses de Fronteira.

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If you have the opportunity to visit Lisbon, the gardens of Palácio Fronteira are a breathtaking walk, well worth the trip. Thanks for the nice comment. Celso

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