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Renaissance Art in Portugal: The Gothic-Manueline
Art in Portugal: The Gothic-Manueline and the Renaissance new trends
In Portugal, the Renaissance developed in close connection with the overseas Portuguese enterprise.
Renaissance art arrives late in Portugal, mainly through decorative elements associated with the late Gothic structures that in Portugal 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, but in the decorative field, the representation of nature is expressed by realistic ornaments where the vegan decorations are often exuberant, as shown in the Manueline major works: the window of the Chapter Room of the Convent of Christ (c. 1510 ), in Tomar, Jeronimos Monastery, in Lisbon (with particular emphasis on the magnificent church portal), the cloister arcade of D. Manuel in the Batalha Monastery or the Tower of Belem.
The exotic representation of animals, plants and strange beings, regarded by some experts as the specificity of the Portuguese Manueline, appear sporadically.
The 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 around the Portuguese Empire.
Moreover the fact that the Gothic Manueline developed under the tutelage of the crown, explains the use of decorative elements associated with the exaltation of divine right monarchy, as the armillary sphere, or the deep mystical sense emanating from the sacred images, particularly the Virgin, converted by King Manuel I in a sort of royal symbol.
The Renaissance art entered the country with ornamental shapes associated with the last phase of Gothic architecture as decorative arabesques, grotesques or medallions.
A 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 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 and cruises.
Highlights go 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, who also created the main cloister of the Convent of Christ, in Tomar.
Although it is primarily ornamental, the Manueline is also characterized by certain technical formulas of height, such as ribbed corbel vaults.
The Portuguese Renaissance sculpture art focused mainly on altarpieces (ornamented structures of stone or wood, rising on the back of the altar, which usually contains a religious painting) and images of saints and tombs where it can be seen two of its key characteristics: proportion and realism.
Among the most important authors are two great foreign artists who left a vast and valuable work: Nicholas Chanterenne (1517-1551), who worked in Jeronimos, at the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, at the Church of S. Marcos in Tentúgal, at 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 the altar reredos of the church of Our Lady of Mercy in Varziela.
The Renaissance influence, in painting, was felt mainly through 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, in the employment of Renaissance architectural ornamentation in furniture or other objects and through the realism of representation of the human figure and nature.
One of the most important works is the Saint Vincent Polyptych (altarpiece consisting of several panels) attributed to Nuno Gonçalves. This is an emblematic work of Portuguese painting, being a great "picture" of Quattrocento society, that mark a break with the rigid schedules and reveal 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 society characters portrayed with realism.
Jorge Alfonso (c.1475-1540), who distinguished himself in London during the reigns of King Manuel I and John III, was one of the artists who gathered the Flemish 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, show an 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 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
Other Neo-Manueline buildings
- Quinta da Regaleira - Wikipedia
The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as "The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire",
- National Archaeology Museum (Lisbon) - Wikipedia
The building of the museum used to be the dormitory of the monks, and was redecorated in neo-Manueline style in the second half of the 19th century.
- Buçaco Palace - Wikipedia
The Palace Hotel of Buçaco was built between 1888 and 1907. The first architect was the Italian Luigi Manini (1848-1936), who designed a Romantic palace in Neo-Manueline style
- Rossio railway station - Wikipedia
The station was commissioned by the Portuguese Royal Railway Company and was designed between 1886 and 1887 by Portuguese architect José Luís Monteiro.