With a distinctly baroque atmosphere, the palace staircase is unique for its tile cladding, datable to 1730-40 and associated with the prolific master tile-maker Bartolomeu Antunes, whose work spread throughout the Portuguese mainland and Atlantic islands, reaching as far as Brazil. Perfectly integrated with the architecture, the square tiles simulate balustrades adorned with garlands of flowers, continuing the festive atmosphere that reaches its peak on the first landing, with what are known as ‘invitation figures’. Typical of the tiles produced during the reign of King João V, these appear in the form of halberdiers, dressed in Roman garb, in the kind of theatrical scene that was popular at the time.
An imposing mirror with a carved gilded frame, an English piece from the mid-18th century (Chippendale) from Lázaro Leitão Palace, in the Junqueira area of Lisbon, indicates just how far the influence of this decorative grammar penetrated Portuguese furniture. Also with gilded carving is the pair of large torch holders, essential pieces for lighting rooms as well as being used for predominantly religious purposes. Two tapestries in wool and silk, decorated with ‘grotesques,’ are thought to be Flemish work from the 16th or 17th century, and evoke the Portuguese taste for this type of textile, which frequently led to them being imported.
On the final landing is the impressive door to the Great Hall, crowned by the coat of arms of the viscounts of Azurara and flanked by two vases in Chinese porcelain from the Qing dynasty. Also of Chinese origin and aimed at the European market is the embroidered velvet bedspread with elaborate decoration featuring leafy scrolls and a crowned two-headed eagle in the centre. The bench in the entrance hall is a typically Portuguese piece, made of carved walnut and backstitched leather, produced in the mid-18th century.