In Portugal, tiles are one of the most engaging examples of the transposition of the scholar culture into architecture, in a permanent dialogue with the world of visual arts.
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Portraits have some tradition in Portuguese tiles and are often associated with a historical narrative.
One of the fables of La Fontaine, illustrated on the tiles of the Royal School of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, recounts the story of the philosopher Democritus, who, when contemplating the daily life of his fellow citizens, laughed without ceasing.
On the benches that surround the tank of one of the gardens of Quinta dos Marqueses de Fronteira, there is one tile panel with a representation of singeries. It was a satirical image and a invitation to spend free hours, without social constraints, in the garden.
To celebrate the nuns’ return to Évora, a major campaign of works was undertaken, with the order of 19 tile panels with scenes of the life of the French abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. Dated around 1783-1785, they are likely to have been produced at the Royal Tableware Factory, in Lisbon.
The history kept the memory of the ugliness of Queen Carlota Joaquina, of a wanton life with numerous lovers, fame fed by the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834), and her support for D. Miguel.
The representation of a black slave woman tending a fish in the kitchen of the Sousa Mexia Palace, currently the headquarters of the Lisbon Museum, is an essential complement to the furniture and indicates the form of social occupation of this space.
In the ensemble that decorates the main hall of Colégio de Santo Antão-o-Novo, in Lisbon, the panel with the representation of a gear system that lifts the weight of the Earth is one of the good examples of transposing an erudite knowledge to eighteenth-century tiles.
In one of the panels of the Colégio do Espírito Santo classroom, the scientific discipline of Physics is compared with The punishment of Prometheus, a theme with an enormous tradition among humanists since the work of Andrea Alciato.
Both in the panel tiles of the physics class at the Colégio do Espírito Santo and the mathematics class in the Aula da Esfera, the Archimedes weapon established a bridge between the sciences and the successful evangelizing activity of the Jesuits.
The name is abbreviated with the initials “GB. B” followed by the letter “F.”, which stands for Fecit, or Fez (the author used both Latin and Portuguese), thereby indicating the authorship and the year 1700.
In the sacristy of the Convento de Santo António do Varatojo, we can admire a series of figured tile panels that show a combined program of allegorical compositions from the illustrations of two 17th century influential books of devotional emblems.
The first reported archaeological evidences of Hispano-Moresque wall tiles produced in Portugal are from the Santo António da Charneca kiln, located in the south shore of Tagus River, near the city of Barreiro.
Fishing near the Cascata dos Gigantes at Quinta dos Marqueses de Pombal, in Oeiras, was an unusual recreation in the gardens of Portuguese country houses in the eighteenth century.
The clocks of the modern period, despite entirely mechanical, have not forgotten their former dependence on the star at the centre of the Solar System.
Despite still being relatively unknown, Athos Bulcão and his artistic legacy left us a demonstration of immense creative potential, which the art tiles medium was only part of a bigger picture.
The emblems created by the Portuguese diplomat António de Sousa de Macedo (1606-1682) are rooted in a deep humanist tradition and were designed to provide a scholarly discourse to architecture.
Working with the proportion relations among all the elements of architecture, the Portuguese architects created a series of geometric pattern tiles in different scales.
Poetic contests are one of the main events of courtesan life. In the academies, supported by great aristocrats, the poets get together to recite verses, to praise, and to be awarded.
Four tiles, now belonging to the Machado de Castro National Museum collection, were part of a disappeared celestial planisphere, displaying the northern and southern hemispheres.
Constantly, painters and poets used the solar system planets to represent the excellence of kings and nobility.
Satire, both for fun or as moral censorship, establishes a link between the popular and the erudite universe.
The tile panels of the poetics class reproduce the main lines of the Jesuit educational program.
At the Quinta de Oeiras, on the stairs that flank the fountain’s niche, two tile panels depict the victories of love over war: Mars disarmed by Venus and Andromeda freed by Perseus.
The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora main hall, with a gallery of royal portraits, has one of the most outstanding programs of images from the Portuguese 18th century.
In villas and palaces, it was common to have rooms decorated with hunting scenes, one of the most recurrent themes depicted in the 1600s and 1700s.
In Lisbon, the tiles with emblems of the Convento da Esperança depict the beauty of flowers as a symbol of the contemplative life.
The doubts about the unstable behavior of beautiful women became natural with the female personification of the months of the year.
The decorative pattern tiles also reveal the classical architectural culture used to produce them.