Magnificent Art in Lisbon – Part One: the Sculptures

National Museum of Ancient Art, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal

Sometimes I worry that maybe I’ve become a bit jaded – maybe I visit too many museums, and maybe that’s why I don’t always find them as exciting as I hope.

But no.  It’s not me: it’s them.

Before going any further, I should clarify for the English speaker that though this museum is dedicated to ‘ancient’ art, it means ancient in the Romance language sense of old – somewhere between the classical and modern world.  It’s a real shame that the Archaeology Museum isn’t here as well, because then I think that way it would be better run and be more interesting than it is currently (the Archaeology Museum is part of the Jeronimos Monastery complex – no photos were allowed, and I didn’t enjoy the experience, so I haven’t written about it).

View of the museum from the road where you catch the tram/bus, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

View of the museum from the road where you catch the tram/bus, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Museum of Ancient Art was created in 1884 and comprises objects which had been the property of the church, and the royal palaces – plus subsequent donations and purchases.  The result is an exceptionally fine collection, housed in a grand 17th century palace of the Count of Alvor.  He had served in India as Viceroy and on his return he had himself built a substantial home which was kept up in high style by the subsequent owners.

What we see today is a tastefully modernised space, with only traces of the original grandeur visible.  In fact, as you’re walking around, it’s easy to forget that it was once a palace, but that’s not a bad thing.  The museum places the most importance in its objects and in showing them off perfectly.  Take the below picture of the Roman torso that is near the gift shop (and toilets), standing on its own – looking majestic.

Roman torso, 1st century BC/AD, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Roman torso, 1st century BC/AD, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Then you have this majestic fellow greeting you as you enter the museum.

Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  On his chest is a medallion inscribed with the phrase DEVS QVIS SICVT 'who is like God', with the eye of Divine Providence in the centre.  These were customary emblems in images of St Michael after the Catholic Counter-Reformation.  He comes from the Royal College of St Patrick in Lisbon, where Irish clergymen were trained as missionaries.

Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  On his chest is a medallion inscribed with the phrase DEVS QVIS SICVT ‘who is like God’, with the eye of Divine Providence in the centre.  These were customary emblems in images of St Michael after the Catholic Counter-Reformation.  He comes from the Royal College of St Patrick in Lisbon, where Irish clergymen were trained as missionaries.

Detail of Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the robe of Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Archangel St Michael, 1780-1790, Lisbon workshop, Nicolau Pinto, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Then you go up the staircase and…

Looking over the exhibition space, with Portuguese paintings and sculptures, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Looking over the exhibition space, with Portuguese paintings and sculptures, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

This particular post is going to concentrate on sculpture.  I’ve divided it into centuries for a bit of clarity.

13th century Portuguese Sculpture

St John the Evangelist, 13th century, Iberian Peninsula workshop, cherry wood, textile and gold, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  He would have been part of a Calvary scene, which was very popular in the Romanesque and Gothic periods.  The very vertical nature of the statue is bound to the idea of the statue-column.

St John the Evangelist, 13th century, Iberian Peninsula workshop, cherry wood, textile and gold, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  He would have been part of a Calvary scene, which was very popular in the Romanesque and Gothic periods.  The very vertical nature of the statue is bound to the idea of the statue-column.

Detail of St John the Evangelist, 13th century, Iberian Peninsula workshop, cherry wood, textile and gold, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St John the Evangelist, 13th century, Iberian Peninsula workshop, cherry wood, textile and gold, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

14th century Portuguese Sculpture

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Christ, 1301-1350, Iberian Peninsula workshop, polychrome wood, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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The Virgin of Expectation, 1340/50, Master Pero, limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal. There was a strong cult centred around depictions of the pregnant Virgin (known as Our Lady of O).

Virgin and Child, 1323-1350, Master Pero, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Virgin and Child, 1323-1350, Master Pero, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of the Virgin and Child, 1323-1350, Master Pero, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Another view of the Virgin and Child, 1323-1350, Master Pero, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Virgin and Child, 1375-1400, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  The movement of the figure, and the clothing composition, are characteristic features of Burgundian works, but Jesus being seated on the Virgin's left arm is a Portuguese twist.

The Virgin and Child, 1375-1400, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  The movement of the figure, and the clothing composition, are characteristic features of Burgundian works, but Jesus being seated on the Virgin’s left arm is a Portuguese twist.

Detail of The Virgin and Child, 1375-1400, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of The Virgin and Child, 1375-1400, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Virgin and Child, 1325-1350, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  Jesus is holding a bird, following an Ile de France tradition. 

The Virgin and Child, 1325-1350, French workshop active in Portugal, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  Jesus is holding a bird, following an Ile de France tradition.

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St Peter, c1325, Évora workshop, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St Peter, c1325, Évora workshop, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St Peter, c1325, Évora workshop, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of St Peter on his heavenly mobile phone, c1325, Évora workshop, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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St Claire, 1325-1350, attributed to Master Pero, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

15th century Portuguese Sculpture

The Virgin and Child, c1480, Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This statue was for the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary (with her mandorla shown as a rosary of 24 roses), associating it with another cult, that of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (the lunar crescent on its base).  This was a combination that was popularised by Dominican preachers.

The Virgin and Child, c1480, Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This statue was for the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary (with her mandorla shown as a rosary of 24 roses), associating it with another cult, that of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception (the lunar crescent on its base).  This was a combination that was popularised by Dominican preachers.

The Virgin and Child, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Virgin and Child, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of The Virgin and Child, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of The Virgin and Child, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St James, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St James, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St James, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St James, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of the man-bag of St James, 1475-1500, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Holy Trinity, c1475, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Holy Trinity, c1475, attributed to Diogo Pires-o-Velho, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Impressive line-up, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Paul, 1450-1475, Master of St Peter from Arouca (Coimbra workshop), limestone with wax relief, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Paul, 1450-1475, Master of St Peter from Arouca (Coimbra workshop), limestone with wax relief, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Catherine, 1475-1500, by 'M', polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Catherine, 1475-1500, by ‘M’, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Anthony Abbot, 1475-1500, by "PA", polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Anthony Abbot, 1475-1500, by “PA”, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Catherine, 1475-1500, by "P", polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Catherine, 1475-1500, by “P”, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Vincent, 1450-1470, Lisbon workshop, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  'This devotional sculpture was made at the orders of Martim Fernão'.  St Vincent became the patron saint of Lisbon when his remains were brought to the city by Dom Henriques.

St Vincent, 1450-1470, Lisbon workshop, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  ‘This devotional sculpture was made at the orders of Martim Fernão’.  St Vincent became the patron saint of Lisbon when his remains were brought to the city by Dom Henriques.

Nursing Virgin, c1460, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Nursing Virgin, c1460, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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The Virgin and Child, 1440-1450, attributed to João Afonso, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Archangel St Michael, c1450, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Archangel St Michael, c1450, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the scales of Archangel St Michael, c1450, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the scales of Archangel St Michael, c1450, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Pieta, c1450-60, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of Mary from the Pieta, c1450-60, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of Jesus from the Pieta, c1450-60, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the bruised body of Jesus from the Pieta, c1450-60, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the bruised body of Jesus from the Pieta, c1450-60, attributed to João Afonso, polychrome limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Virgin and Child, 1460, João Afonso, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal. Mary is shown as the first teacher of Jesus, who is writing the word ‘Salvation’ on parchment.  The pomegranate she holds in her hand symbolises the unity of the Church.

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The Archangel St Michael, c1440, attributed to João Afonso, limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of the Archangel St Michael, c1440, attributed to João Afonso, limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Peter and Paul, 1440-1450, attributed to the Monastery of Batalha workshop, limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Peter and Paul, 1440-1450, attributed to the Monastery of Batalha workshop, limestone, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  Dom João I vowed that if he was victorious in battle, he would build a Dominican monastery: it became the great complex of Santa Maria da Vitoria in Batalha.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  Dom João I vowed that if he was victorious in battle, he would build a Dominican monastery: it became the great complex of Santa Maria da Vitoria in Batalha.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Musician Angel, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Prophet, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

Prophet, 1420-1437, workshop of the Portal of the Monastery of Batalha, Master Huguet, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This example was removed during restoration work in the 19th century.

16th century Portuguese Sculpture

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St James, 1501-1525, Flemish workshop active in Portugal, polychrome walnut, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of St James, 1501-1525, Flemish workshop active in Portugal, polychrome walnut, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Mark the Evangelist, 1510-1525, Cornelis de Holanda, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal. It was intended to be placed on the predella of an altarpiece.

St Mark the Evangelist, 1510-1525, Cornelis de Holanda, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal. It was intended to be placed on the predella of an altarpiece.

Detail of the Two Headed Fountain, 1510-1525, Lisbon workshop, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  The coat of arms represents Manuel I and his sister Dona Eleanor.

Detail of the Two Headed Fountain, 1510-1525, Lisbon workshop, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  The coat of arms represents Manuel I and his sister Dona Eleanor.

Tomb effigy of Dom Manuel de Lima, c1570, attributed to Jerónimo de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This is the only funerary statue from the Renaissance period remaining in Lisbon.  It was found bricked up within the walls of the Monastery of São Francisco.  Dom Manuel was a canon of the Collegiate Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliviera, then embarked on a military career and went to India, where he participated in the second siege of Diu and the raids along the Cambay coast.

Tomb effigy of Dom Manuel de Lima, c1570, attributed to Jerónimo de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  This is the only funerary statue from the Renaissance period remaining in Lisbon.  It was found bricked up within the walls of the Monastery of São Francisco.  Dom Manuel was a canon of the Collegiate Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliviera, then embarked on a military career and went to India, where he participated in the second siege of Diu and the raids along the Cambay coast.

Detail of the tomb effigy of Dom Manuel de Lima, c1570, attributed to Jerónimo de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the tomb effigy of Dom Manuel de Lima, c1570, attributed to Jerónimo de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St John the Baptist, c1540, João de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St John the Baptist, c1540, João de Ruão, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of One of the Three Magi, 1575-1600, workshop active in Lisbon, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of One of the Three Magi, 1575-1600, workshop active in Lisbon, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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One of the Three Magi, 1575-1600, workshop active in Lisbon, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

17th century Portuguese Sculpture

Dom Duarte I of Portugal, Portuguese Workshop, 1650-1675, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Dom Duarte I of Portugal, Portuguese Workshop, 1650-1675, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of Dom Duarte I of Portugal, Portuguese Workshop, 1650-1675, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

18th century Portuguese Sculpture

St Onuphrius, c1750, José de Almeida, cherrywood and glass eyes, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  It was never painted.  It functioned as a model used in the sculpture lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon.

St Onuphrius, c1750, José de Almeida, cherrywood and glass eyes, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  It was never painted.  It functioned as a model used in the sculpture lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon.

Detail of St Onuphrius, c1750, José de Almeida, cherrywood and glass eyes, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  It was never painted.  It functioned as a model used in the sculpture lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon.

Detail of St Onuphrius, c1750, José de Almeida, cherrywood and glass eyes, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  It was never painted.  It functioned as a model used in the sculpture lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon.

The Institution of the Eucharist, 1701-1725, Antonio Gomes and Filipe Silva (?), National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

The Institution of the Eucharist, 1701-1725, Antonio Gomes and Filipe Silva (?), National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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St Anne and the Virgin, 1783/4, Joaquim Machado de Castro (sculptor), José Abreu do Ó (cabinet maker), Tomás Lopes (painter, gilder), National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal.  It was commissioned by Dona Maria I for the convent of Nossa Senhora da Conceição of Arroios, in Lisbon.  The chair is made by the cabinet maker. St Anne was a popular model of female education and the transmission of the Christian faith.

Detail of St Anne and the Virgin, 1783/4, Joaquim Machado de Castro (sculptor), José Abreu do Ó (cabinet maker), Tomás Lopes (painter, gilder), National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of St Anne and the Virgin, 1783/4, Joaquim Machado de Castro (sculptor), José Abreu do Ó (cabinet maker), Tomás Lopes (painter, gilder), National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal. The 38 figures were kept inside a cupboard that was opened during the Christmas period.

Detail of the Shepherd cooing over the baby Jesus, Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Shepherd cooing over the baby Jesus, Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the shepherds from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the shepherds from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of adoring folk from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of a family visiting the baby Jesus, from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of an old woman and an amazing basket, from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

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Detail of a breastfeeding mother, from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the child on the back of the breastfeeding mother, from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the child on the back of the breastfeeding mother, from the Crib from the Convent of Santa Teresa de Jesus de Carnide, 1701-1725, António Ferreira, baked clay, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

…please click here for Part Two…

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