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    Sale 5433

    Old Master & British Pictures & Old Master Drawings

    2 December 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 357

    Portuguese School, late 16th Century

    The Adoration of the Magi

    Price Realised  


    Portuguese School, late 16th Century
    The Adoration of the Magi
    with illegible inscription
    pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, squared in black chalk, on blue prepared paper, losses
    18 x 13 3/8 in. (457 x 340 mm.)

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    Pre-Lot Text


    The forty drawings included in lots 357 to 376 represent a very rare group of Portuguese works on paper, perhaps the first of its kind ever to appear at auction outside Portugal. With the exception of Francisco de Holanda and perhaps Domingos Antonio de Sequeira, Lusitanian artists of the 16th to the 19th Century remain hardly known beyond Portugal. Publications on Portuguese drawings are scarce: one can cite two exhibitions devoted to works in Portuguese collections, Dessin. La Collection du MNAA, Lisbon, Museu National de Arte Antigua, 1994 and more recently, European Master Drawings from Portuguese Collections, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum and Lisbon, Centro Cultural de Belem, 2000 (the catalogue written by Nicholas Turner), and very few monographs on the local artists (Sequeira again being a notable exception). Rare (not to say non-existent) are non-Portuguese institutions with significant holdings of Lusitanian drawings.
    Except for three which date from the 16th and 17th Century, the drawings included in this sale are all from the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. This is not so surprising, as the period saw a significant renewal in Portuguese art. Following the terrible earthquake of 1755 in Lisbon, King Joseph I's chief minister, the Marquis of Pombal, initiated a vigorous campaign to rebuild the city, thus encouraging the arts, a policy that was continued by Queen Maria I. Following the model of the French academy, young Portuguese artists were sent to Rome to study Antiquity and the great masters. This initiative resulted in the strong influence of Italian art on the production of these painters and sculptors. The close political ties between England and Portugal also had their effect on Lusitanian artists who often travelled to London and had major British patrons.