Created in 1884, and located in the Palácio Alvor for almost 130 years, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga has had its current title for more than a century. It is home to the most important Portuguese public collection of art, ranging from paintings to sculpture, and gold and silverware, as well as decorative arts from Europe, Africa and the Far East.
Containing over 40,000 items, the museum collection has the largest number of works classified by the State as “national treasures”. In its various sections, it also has a number of major works of art in the context of the world artistic heritage.
In this small article, we will give you the top 5 features not to miss, when visiting this treasure of Portuguese Culture.
1 – Tentações de Santo Antão
Signed by Bosh this three-paneled painting displays the Earth’s four elements, making them the background of horrifying characters, it is one of the museum’s treasures and one of the world’s great paintings.
2 – Portuguese and Chinese Ceramics
The museum’s 7,500-piece collection of ceramics illustrates the interplay of influences. From the 16th century, Portuguese faïence shows traces of Ming, while the Chinese porcelain features coats of arms and other Portuguese motifs.
3 – Painel de São Vicente
Perhaps the most important Portuguese painting, the six paintings attributed to Nuno Gonçalves is a solemn and monumental assembly, representing the Court and various groups of Portuguese society at the time.
4 – Santo Agostinho
This mid-15th century work by Piero della Francesca was identified in 1946 as the missing panel of an altarpiece painted for the church of St Augustine in Borgo San Sepolcro, Italy.
5 - Namban Screens
After encountering Portuguese travelers in the 16th century, Japan’s artists portrayed them as namban-jin, or “southern barbarians”. The screens were not meant to be shown outside Japan.