Magnificent Art in Lisbon – Part Four: Eastern Art

…continued from Part Three…

One of the most remarkable aspects of Portuguese history is the fact that they were able to establish trade links with the Far East.  Considering the dangers of sailing in the 15th century, it is truly astonishing that they got a foothold in India, China and Japan, where they not only traded, but were able to establish outposts.  I cover some of this ground on my post on the Maritime Museum.

Africa

The primary purpose of the Portuguese explorers was to establish trade routes and make lots of money.  They also had the advantage of having been granted a trade monopoly for lands newly ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese, as backed up by two papal bulls.  The first area they explored was the coast of Africa – the intention was to make it to India so that they could benefit from the spice trade, but in the meantime they inched along Africa, developing relationships with local leaders, and engaged in the slave and gold trade.

The Portuguese were also the first Europeans to deal with the Kingdom of Benin, an area of modern Nigeria.  In 1485, the Portuguese developed a trading relationship based on getting products like ivory, pepper and palm oil from Benin in exchange for guns and manilla (torque-like objects that were used as money: for an example see my post from Lausanne).  The relationship was such that by the early 16th century, there was an ambassador of Benin in Lisbon.  In return, Christian missionaries went to Benin City – where some people apparently continued to speak pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century.

Salt cellar showing a Portuguese priest and a man on a horse, 16th century, Edo or Yoruba, Kingdom of Benin, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Salt cellar showing a Portuguese priest and a man on a horse, 16th century, Edo or Yoruba, Kingdom of Benin, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

India and Goa

With Vasco da Gama rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the Indian Ocean was opened up to the Portuguese in 1497, and through the help of local pilots, the ships reached Calicut in south-western India.  They found themselves in a positive situation: the ruler of Kochi and the leader of Calicut were rivals, and the Portuguese were seen as neutral allies of both.  Both kingdoms allowed the building of forts and factories and by 1505 their situation there was so cushy, the King of Portugal appointed Francisco de Almeida as the first Viceroy of India.

In 1510, the Portuguese conquered Goa, and used it as their capital in the East.  The second viceroy, Afonso de Albuquerque, set up a Portuguese mint there, and encouraged generally good relations with the locals.  The Portuguese settlers were encouraged to marry local women, and the Hindu temples were protected.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd, 17th century, Goa, India, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Jesus as the Good Shepherd, 17th century, Goa, India, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, 17th century, Goa, India, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, 17th century, Goa, India, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Chasuble, stole and maniple, 18th century, India, printed and painted cotton, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Chasuble, stole and maniple, 18th century, India, printed and painted cotton, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Anne, second half of 18th century, Goa, India, gilded and polychrome ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

St Anne, second half of 18th century, Goa, India, gilded and polychrome ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Devotional base, Goa, India, 18th century, gilded and painted teak: Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, 18th century, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Devotional base, Goa, India, 18th century, gilded and painted teak: Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, 18th century, ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

From the inside lid of an Indian chest, 17th century, teak, lignum vitae, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

From the inside lid of an Indian chest, 17th century, teak, lignum vitae, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two cute stylised lions, from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two cute stylised lions, from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two stylised heads from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two stylised heads from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the eyes of so many stylised figures from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the eyes of so many stylised figures from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of stylised animals from a cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of stylised animals from a cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of dragon-like figures from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of dragon-like figures from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two rounded stylised animals, from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two rounded stylised animals, from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a stylised bird-like-figure from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a stylised bird-like-figure from the cabinet on a stand, 17th century, India, teak, ebony and ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Casket, 17th century, Sri Lanka, sandalwood, tortoise shell, ivory, silver fittings, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Casket, 17th century, Sri Lanka, sandalwood, tortoise shell, ivory, silver fittings, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Casket, 17th century, Sri Lanka, sandalwood, tortoise shell, ivory, silver fittings, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Casket, 17th century, Sri Lanka, sandalwood, tortoise shell, ivory, silver fittings, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Christ, second half of the 17th century, India, polychromed and gilded ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Christ, second half of the 17th century, India, polychromed and gilded ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Indian-style fabric loincloth and the sore, bloodied knees of Christ, second half of the 17th century, India, polychromed and gilded ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Indian-style fabric loincloth and the sore, bloodied knees of Christ, second half of the 17th century, India, polychromed and gilded ivory, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Dom Francisco de Almeida, 1st Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, after 1545, unknown painter, from the Governor's Palace, Goa, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Dom Francisco de Almeida, 1st Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, after 1545, unknown painter, from the Governor’s Palace, Goa, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Dom Francisco de Almeida, 1st Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, after 1545, unknown painter, from the Governor's Palace, Goa, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Dom Francisco de Almeida, 1st Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, after 1545, unknown painter, from the Governor’s Palace, Goa, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Dom Francisco de Mascarenhas, 13th Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, late 16th century, unknown master, Goa, India, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Dom Francisco de Mascarenhas, 13th Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, late 16th century, unknown master, Goa, India, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Portrait of a Portuguese man, early 17th century, India, tempera and gold on paper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Portrait of a Portuguese man, early 17th century, India, tempera and gold on paper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, India, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, India, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two elephants in a hunt from the Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two elephants in a hunt from the Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a man hunting a tiger from the Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass

Detail of a man hunting an elephant from the Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass

Cabinet on stand, 16th/17th century, ebony, shisham, ivory and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

China and Macau

For the sake of preserving their trade, they battled it out with Indian Kingdoms, and, in order to help preserve what they had in India, they moved further east.  In 1511, Albuquerque captured Malacca in Malaysia, which had the largest spice market of the period.  From here, Portuguese trade out towards China became possible, and new horizons opened up for business.

Only the initial goodwill between the Chinese and Portuguese was short lived.  It was perhaps not a good move to have a prominent Portuguese explorer, Simão de Andrade, behaving like a moron and attacking Chinese ships and officials.  Portuguese men were killed in retaliation.  After many years of strained relations, the Chinese allowed the Portuguese to settle in Macau in 1557.

Screen showing the Kings of Portugal with battles, China, Macau, c1708, painted gilded paper and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Screen showing the Kings of Portugal with battles, China, Macau, c1708, painted gilded paper and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Screen showing the Kings of Portugal with battles, China, Macau, c1708, painted gilded paper and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Screen showing the Kings of Portugal with battles, China, Macau, c1708, painted gilded paper and brass, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Virgin Mary, c1780, Macau, China, reverse painted on glass, black lacquered frame with gold decoration, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Virgin Mary, c1780, Macau, China, reverse painted on glass, black lacquered frame with gold decoration, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Virgin Mary, c1780, Macau, China, reverse painted on glass, black lacquered frame with gold decoration, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Virgin Mary, c1780, Macau, China, reverse painted on glass, black lacquered frame with gold decoration, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Virgin and Child, 16th/17th century, Canton, China, ivory with polychrome and lacquer traces, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Virgin and Child, 16th/17th century, Canton, China, ivory with polychrome and lacquer traces, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Virgin and Child, 16th/17th century, Canton, China, ivory with polychrome and lacquer traces, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Virgin and Child, 16th/17th century, Canton, China, ivory with polychrome and lacquer traces, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cup and Saucer, China, 18th/19th centuries, straw, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cup and Saucer, China, 18th/19th centuries, straw, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cup and saucer, China, 18th/19th centuries, bamboo, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Cup and saucer, China, 18th/19th centuries, bamboo, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Japan

In 1571, the Portuguese founded the port of Nagasaki in Japan.  The Portuguese had first met the Japanese in 1542, but the interaction between the two cultures didn’t go well.  The Japanese did however see the benefit of various European developments like the arquebus, and refined sugar.  Plus the Portuguese could bring much valued Chinese goods, like silk and porcelain, which the Japanese were no longer able to acquire directly, due to the Emperor of China’s decree which prohibited trade.  This was in punishment for Japanese pirate raids on China, but clearly the Portuguese offered a way round the ban and gently used this to befriend the Japanese.

The wily Portuguese started to regulate trade to Japan.  A single carrack (a large ship, triple the size of a galleon) would go to Japan each year, loaded with valuables.  From 1557 till 1614 this so-called Nanban (southern barbarian) trade continued very successfully – but was stopped when the Japanese authorities became concerned that priests were being smuggled into the country.

The Museum of Ancient Art has some fascinating examples of Nanban art, that is the art produced by the Japanese which depicted foreigners.  There are three folding screens, byōbu, which are rendered in a traditional Japanese style, but which show the Portuguese carracks and traders – and the reaction of the locals to these strange looking fellows.  No, the Portuguese are not shown in a flattering light, with their big noses, and outfits which looks extremely heavy and out of place beside the light and elegant Japanese around them.  The level of detail is fascinating, giving some insight into the experience of the Portuguese – at least from the artistic viewpoint of Japanese artists.

Nanban Screen One

Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a man in a red hat, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a man in a red hat, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a boat carrying a Portuguese man, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a boat carrying a Portuguese man, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Japanese shops, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Japanese shops, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of golden cloud and a street of foreigners, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of golden cloud and a street of foreigners, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Deatil of a church, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Deatil of a church, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the unloading of goods, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the unloading of goods, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a man with an inexplicably naked bum, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a man with an inexplicably naked bum, Nanban Screen, second half 17th century, Japan, painting on paper, silver and gold leaf, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano School Nanban Screen attributed to Kano Domi

Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan,wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan,wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of priests, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of priests, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese man chatting to a Japanese man, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese man chatting to a Japanese man, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men carrying interesting goods, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men carrying interesting goods, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese man pointing yonder, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese man pointing yonder, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

A detailed detail of a Portuguese man pointing yonder, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

A detailed detail of a Portuguese man pointing yonder, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men and an African slave, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men and an African slave, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a concerned looking Portuguese man, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a concerned looking Portuguese man, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of seated Portuguese men, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of seated Portuguese men, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two Portuguese men on board a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two Portuguese men on board a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two men sitting on the ropes of a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of two men sitting on the ropes of a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the amazing treasures brought by the Portuguese, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the amazing treasures brought by the Portuguese, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of three men on board the ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of three men on board the ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men sitting beneath the shrouds of a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men sitting beneath the shrouds of a ship, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of goods being unloaded onto boats, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of goods being unloaded onto boats, Kano School Nanban Screen, c1593-1600, attributed to Kano Domi, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano School Nanban Screen by Kano Naizen

Detail of Portuguese men admiring a peacock, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men admiring a peacock, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of Portuguese men, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of Portuguese men, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of Portuguese men (including one in sunglasses), Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of Portuguese men (including one in sunglasses), Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men doing acrobatics on ships, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men doing acrobatics on ships, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese men standing on the bowsprit of a ship, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Portuguese men standing on the bowsprit of a ship, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portugese men and African slaves with horses, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portugese men and African slaves with horses, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of men running, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a group of men running, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of three men on horses, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of three men on horses, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men sitting, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of Portuguese men sitting, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail showing a scene with women in a Japanese house, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail showing a scene with women in a Japanese house, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a thoughtful Portuguese man, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a thoughtful Portuguese man, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men with an elephant, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of men with an elephant, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Japanese house, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of a Japanese house, Kano school Nanban Screen, c1606, Kano Naizen, Japan, wood, paper, gold-leaf polychrome tempera painting, silk, lacquer, gilt copper, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Then there was this random, but lovely statue…

Maitreya in meditation, Japan/Korea, 7th century, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Maitreya in meditation, Japan/Korea, 7th century, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Maitreya in meditation, 7th century, Japan/Korea, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the Maitreya in meditation, 7th century, Japan/Korea, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the face of the Maitreya in meditation, 7th century, Japan/Korea, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

Detail of the face of the Maitreya in meditation, 7th century, Japan/Korea, bronze, National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, Portugal

So In Summary

Without doubt, the National Museum of Ancient Art is a remarkable place.  All the rooms combine to really show the rich artistic tradition of Portugal, while also demonstrating the extent of the buying power of the kings and churches: whether it was a della Robbia or a Bosch, they commissioned or bought some of the most extraordinary art in western Europe.  It is sad to remember that much of the art of Lisbon was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, though this serves as a sombre reminder, also, of how lucky we are to see what’s survived.  From the statues to the paintings to the ivory Good Shepherd, there are lots of little treasures in this beautiful museum which will easily entertain anyone who enjoys exploring collections that don’t just contain ‘big names’.  It was a joy.

Further Information

The museum has its own website, which is available in English: www.museudearteantiga.pt  

The museum holds regular exhibitions, about which you can find out more from the website.

Annoyingly, and incredibly, we didn’t actually get to see every area of the museum.  We missed out on the section on jewellery, ceramics, gold and silver, as well as the galleries on Portuguese furniture.

How To Get There

The museum was not as easy to get to as I expected.  If you try and walk – like we did – from Rossio, then be prepared to want to die by the time you get there.  We had to walk because it was a public holiday so one of the buses wasn’t running, and the trams kept being full.  So as not to get lost, we walked along the railway which runs along to Belem.  Yeah, that was fun.  It took us over an hour.  Then, we had to climb up steps – sooo many steps – basically up a hill/mountain to get to the museum.  So I really recommend that you go by tram – the stop is Cais da Rocha.  You can find out more via the English version site of the transport people: www.carris.pt

Also be aware that if you leave the museum towards the evening, when tourists are flocking back from Belem, you will have full trams bolting past you.  We waited for about 40 minutes for a tram – which we finally managed to board, we charged like angry bulls into the carriage, aided by a sweet Portuguese lady who was waiting with us, was equally fed up, and helped make space.  Bless her heart.

 

 

 

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