The Gothic-Manueline Art in Portugal
Art in Portugal: the Gothic-Manueline and the affirmation of Renaissance new trends
The Renaissance is a contemporary phenomenon of the Portuguese Discoveries and it's development was in close connection with the overseas Portuguese enterprise.
Renaissance art arrives late in Portugal and in the beginning, only through decorative elements associated with the late Gothic structures. In Portugal this style has developed its own ornamental characteristics, referred to as Manueline or Gothic-Manueline.
The architecture of the Gothic-Manueline integrates the typical way of construction of the Gothic trend.
In the decorative field, the representation of nature is expressed by realistic nature ornaments where the vegan decorations are often exuberant, as shown in the Manueline major works: the window of Chapter Room of the Convent of Christ (c. 1510 ), in Tomar, Jeronimos Monastery, with particular emphasis on the magnificent portal of the church, the cloister arcade of D. Manuel in the Monastery of Batalha or the Tower of Belem.
The exoticism that transpires in the representation of animals, plants and strange beings, in which some wished to see the specificity of the Portuguese Manuelino, appear sporadically.
Its main significance is the search for different and new motives in the nationalist claim to distinguish itself from foreign models, showing elements that were part of everyday life of travel and civilizational encounters in the Portuguese Empire.
Moreover the fact that the Gothic Manueline has developed, often under the tutelage of the crown explains the use of decorative elements associated with the objective of the exaltation of the divine right monarchy, as the armillary sphere, or the deep mystical sense emanating from the sacred images, particularly of the Virgin, converted by King Manuel I in a sort of royal symbol.
The art of the Renaissance entered in Portugal with ornamental shapes associated with the architecture of the last phase of Gothic. Renaissance decorative arabesques, grotesques, medallions, appear to decorate architectural forms essentially Gothics.
Another peculiarity is that they were introduced by foreign artists, Galician, Biscainhos, French and, later, Italians or Portuguese educated abroad, like Francis Holland (1517-84), artist, historian and art critic, who played an important role in disseminating new ideas.
The ornamental motifs that characterize this trend are very rich and, contrary to what has become commonly said, they are not characterized only by maritime symbols, inspired by the Age of Discovery, but by a set of symbols of different order in which sea elements are included. The idea that the ornaments were connected to the sea is due to Edgar Quinet, in 1857, and became a commonplace.
The Manueline keeps the structure of buildings free of unnecessary ornamentation: the exterior or interior walls are usually bare, focusing on the decoration of certain structural components such as windows, doorways , triumphal arches, ceilings, domes , pillars and columns, arches, ribs (warheads, lierne and terceletes), friezes , cornices , parapets (as in Jeronimos) buttresses and also tombs, fountains, cruises..
The highlight is to the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (1547), in Tomar, by João de Castilho (1490-1151), and the palace of Quinta da Bacalhoa (c.1540) in Azeitão, attributed to Diego de Torralva, also author of the main cloister of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar.
Although it is primarily ornamental, the Manueline is also characterized by the application of certain technical formulas of height, such as ribbed vaulting from corbels .
The Portuguese Renaissance sculpture art focused mainly on altarpieces (structures of stone or wood, ornamented, rising on the back of the altar, which usually contains a religious painting), images of saints and tombs where it can be seen two of its key characteristics: the proportion and realism.
Among the most important authors, the highlight will be two great foreign artists who left a vast and valuable work: Nicholas Chanterenne (1517-1551), who worked in Jeronimos, the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, at the Church of S. Marcos in Tentúgal, in the chapel of Pena in Sintra, and John of Rouen (between 1528 and 1580), author of numerous works, such as the Cloister of the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra and reredos of the altar of the church of Our Lady of Mercy in Varziela.
In painting, the Renaissance influence was felt mainly by the Flemish school, thanks to works imported from Flanders and the presence of painters from this region of Europe. This influence is revealed in the conception of space, employment of motives in the ornamentation of Renaissance architecture in furniture, various objects and the realism of the representation of the human figure and nature.
The Polyptych (altarpiece consisting of several panels), Saint Vincent, attributed to Nuno Gonçalves, an emblematic work of Portuguese painting, is a great "picture" of Quattrocento society, marking a break with the rigid schedules and revealing a Gothic plastic sensibility precursory of Renaissance art. Around the idealized figure of S.Vicente, we can see fishermen, monks, knights, royals, probably the King D. Afonso V himself and other characters of the society at that time portrayed with realism.
Jorge Alfonso (c.1475-1540), who distinguished himself in London in the reigns of King Manuel I and John III, was one of the artists who gathered this influence, which has also been felt in other parts of the country, particularly in Viseu, a city that was connected to Vasco Fernandes, better known as Grão Vasco (1480-1543). His work, though influenced by Flemish, painting presents a great expressive force and originality in the represented figures.
Jeronimos MonasteryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Belem towerClick thumbnail to view full-size
Portuguese history and culture
The Convent of the Order of Christ in TomarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Batalha MonasteryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Other Manueline Monuments in PortugalClick thumbnail to view full-size
Manueline Monuments out of PortugalClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Neo-Manueline was a current revival within the Portuguese architecture and decorative arts between the mid-nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
The neo-manueline began with the construction of the Pena Palace in Sintra, by the king-consort D. Fernando de Saxe-Coburgo, between 1839 and 1849. After it, more buildings in this noe style were constructed not only in Portugal but in other countries, like Brazil, Russia and in the Portuguese colonies, as Mozambique.
Neo-Manueline BuildingsClick thumbnail to view full-size
More by this Author
Remembering the Bamyan Buddhas of Afghanistan
The Christianised Portuguese Dolmens
Garrett McNamara breaked the world record for largest wave ever surfed at Praia do Norte, Nazaré. The giant waves are formed due to the presence of the underwater Nazaré Canyon.
No comments yet.