Netherlandish Painting in Portugal: Trade, Reception, and Impact Around 1500
My doctoral work examines the reception, imitation, appropriation, and transformation of Netherlandish painting in Portugal around the turn of the sixteenth century through a study of surviving documents, visual evidence, and available (technical) studies. In chapter two, I discuss the limitations of the existing literature concerned with the painting production in Portugal in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, caused by its political seclusion from the nineteenth century until the 1970s. Diplomacy, trade, and immigration were the most important points of contact with Netherlandish painting in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and are the focus of chapter three and four. Chapter three reveals how Netherlandish luxury goods became part of Portuguese collections, while chapter four focuses on Lisbon artists that were a part of the network of court painter Jorge Afonso (c. 1470–1540). These artists were responsible for the production of some of the most prestigious royal altarpiece commissions of the first decades of the sixteenth century. Chapter five centres around the Évora Altarpiece, a nineteen-panel Netherlandish altarpiece produced around 1500. Here, I tentatively argue that the altarpiece was commissioned from Gerard David and then shipped to Portugal. David might have subcontracted several painters to complete the commission. In chapter six, I discuss three paintings that hung in two Colettine convents and depict the same unique iconography, an angel appearing before three kneeling Clarisse saints. Two paintings stylistically relate to Quinten Metsys, while the other was part of an altarpiece and is attributed to Jorge Afonso. The paintings were probably commissioned by Queen Eleanor who founded the convents and instigated the Colettine reform movement in Portugal. She might have been inspired by her contacts in Burgundy, perhaps Margaret of Austria, who was an active promoter of Colette’s reform. The paintings discussed in this dissertation exemplify how the import of Netherlandish paintings, the arrival of Netherlandish painters, and the favourable artistic climate in Portugal impacted the local production of altarpieces. Collaboratively produced by local master painters and their workshops, these heterogeneous altarpieces combine elements of Netherlandish (style, technique), Portuguese (cultural references, colour use), and Spanish (format) origin.