Nativity Scene Room
Decorated with 17th-century square tiles, this small room houses a significant part of the Museum’s collection of nativity scenes and figures, an art with a long tradition in Portugal. Of particularly high quality in terms of their modelling and polychrome are the two terracotta groups representing the adoration of the shepherds, originally part of a larger nativity scene which was undoubtedly composed of dozens of other pieces. They were made by Silvestre Faria Lobo, a renowned carver and nativity scene maker of the second half of the 18th century.
Less sophisticated but just as interesting is the nativity scene displayed in a glazed wooden structure, known as maquineta, a work produced by one of the many Portuguese sculptors who remained anonymous. The use of gold paper and the presence of dried plants and fabric flowers leads us to believe that the pieces were assembled by a woman, probably a nun, as this type of work was common in the old convents.
Figures not generally associated with the nativity, the delicate clay sculptures of Mary Magdalene and Saint Jerome were modelled by António Ferreira, a famous nativity scene maker from the early 18th century and co-creator, with his father Dionísio, of the large Madre de Deus convent nativity scene.
A Holy Family, made by an unknown artist, is housed in a wall-mounted maquineta with gilded motifs on a red background. Truly unique, the interior reproduces a décor typical of an 18th-century noble house, with square tiles, painted ceiling, and a floor mimicking the traditional chequering in black and white marble, and five small paintings with roses painted on glass.