Portugal has a deep artistic heritage with incredible artists past and present. Here is a sampling of some of Portugal’s better known artists, from the 15th century until today.
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was born in Lisbon in the early 20th century and began studying painting, drawing, and sculpture in Portugal. After she moved to Paris, she attended several art schools and eventually married fellow artist and painter, Arpad Szenes from Hungary. She studies sculpture under the tutelage of Bourdelle and Despiau and painting under Dufresne, Friesz, Léger and Bissière. In 1933, she had her first one-woman exhibition at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher. She was awarded the Grand Prix at the 1961 São Paulo Biennale and the Grand Prix National des Arts 1963.
Maria Inês Ribeiro da Fonseca
Maria Inês Ribeiro da Fonseca was born in Lisbon in 1926. Her main body of work was paintings and drawings however she also created many ceramic pieces, silkscreen prints, tapestries and engravings. She died in 1995.
Nadir Afonso (1920-2013) was a geometric abstractionist painter. Originally an architect, he practiced with the famous Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer. He later decided to study painting and became one of the pioneering artists in Kinetic art along with André Bloc, Fernand Léger, Victor Vasarely, and Auguste Herbin. An internationally claimed artist, many of Nadir Afonso’s works are in museums. His most famous works are the Cities series and was known to have continued painting into older age.
Born in Portugal in 1935, Paula Rego was trained at the Slade School of Fine Art where she met painter and husband Victor Willig. He was British and they divided their time between England and Portugal until 1975. In Portugal, she became acclaimed for her semi-abstract paintings which included collage details. Her style has evolved from abstract to representational, and works mainly in pastels as opposed to oils. A lot of her works represent feminism and folk themes inspired by Portugal, her country of birth.
Josefa de Óbidos
Josefa de Óbidos or otherwise known as Josefa de Ayala Figueira, was a Portuguese painter. All of her artwork was made in Portugal where she lived from the age of four. About 150 works of art have been attributed to her, making her one of the most productive Baroque artists in Portugal.
Cristóvão Lopes (c.1516–1594) was a Portuguese painter and son of royal painter Gregório Lopes. In 1551, after his father’s death, Cristóvão became the next royal court painter of King John III. Cristóvão style might suggest that he worked with Dutch portrait painter Antonis Mor who had come to Portugal in the 1550s to paint the royal family. He is known for his painting of an altarpiece in Lisbon’s Convent of Madre de Deus and of an allegory in the Misericórdia Church in Sesimbra . Many of his works are in the National Museum of Ancient Art (Lisbon).
Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso was a versatile artist whose works cross through all of the main artistic movement of the 20th century. He refused to have labels and made up an art form of his own somewhere between traditional and modern, He was close friends with well known artists from that era including Modigliani, Brancusi, ad Delaunay.
Gonçalves was a 15th-century Portuguese court painter for King Afonso V of Portugal. He is mainly known for his painting of the Paineis de São Vicente de Fora (Saint Vincent Panels). This famous work depicts 15th century Portuguese society.
Domingos Sequeira was a royal court painter for King John VI of Portugal and a famous Portuguese painter. The National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon has one of the best collections of his paintings. His most well known works include Prince John Reviewing the Troops at Azumbuja, Miracle of Ourique, and The Adoration of the Magi.
Jorge Afonso (c. 1470 – 1540) was an important Portuguese Renaissance Royal painter. He worked as a royal painter for the courts of King Manuel I and King John III. Many other Portuguese artists studied under Afonso including Cristóvão de Figueiredo, Garcia Fernandes, Gregório Lopes, Jorge Leal, and more. Afonso painted the main altarpiece of the Convent of Madre de Deus, in Lisbon, in 1515. This magnificent altarpiece is now located in National Museum of Ancient Art, in Lisbon. Afonso also painted the main altarpiece of the Monastery of Jesus, in Setúbal and they can be seen in the Monastery’s museum.
Francisco Henriques was a 16th century Flemish Renaissance painter active in Portugal. His first work in Portugal is thought to be the main altarpiece of Viseu Cathedral other works include a large polyptych and altarpieces for the Church of St Francis in Évora. Henriques continued to work in Lisbon until 1518, when he died of the plague.