Portuguese Chair Section (currently closed for conservation)
Room temporarily close for conservation.
Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva collected a large number of artworks, dating from the 15th to the 19th century, bought at national and international auctions and in private sales. Among this collection are around 300 chairs and 30 couches/sofas which he decided to donate, creating the Foundation in his name and one of the largest groups of seat furniture in Portuguese collections, allowing us to view the Portuguese chair unequivocally as a civilisational object.
The coherence of this collection takes us on an artistic, technical and social journey, with pieces spanning nearly three centuries, as well as touching on the history of tastes and customs.
Taken from reserve collections and some of the Museum rooms, the chairs on display have been grouped thematically with the intention of highlighting their existence as artistic objects, which allows for a diversity of readings, both chronological, by typology or by functionality, and by the materials and construction techniques used.
All made of wood, with different origins and characteristics, we can admire chairs for dressing rooms, for playing or watching games, folding chairs, chairs for playing the piano, for praying, for resting, for desks, for dressing tables, etc.
From the 17th century, we see chairs of leather or hide, austere and solid, with engraved decorative motifs that give them distinction and continue the tradition of earlier techniques.
The 18th century saw the arrival of impressive pieces made from ‘exotic’ woods, such as pau-santo, in which we can see the comfort and luxury of carved pieces, sometimes gilded, and upholstery in beautiful velvets and brocades, which reflect societies with diverse tastes and customs.
From the late 18th century and continuing into the 19th, we begin to see lighter structures, classicism and straight lines, and a particular taste for painting and rattan. Spaces for socialising, some contrived and romantic, started to become more common and houses filled with objects inspired by triumphs and with a strongly European influence.
Today, the knowledge of Portuguese masters and craftspeople is safeguarded day after day in the Foundation’s Workshops, allowing not just for the continuity of models and techniques, but also for the making of contemporary creations.