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The Ricardo Do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation

In 1953, banker and collector Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva donated the Azurara Palace and part of his private collection to the Portuguese State. Thus was born the Foundation bearing his name, created as a Museum-School with the purpose of protecting and promoting the Portuguese Decorative Arts and the trades related to them.

Besides the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Foundation today hosts 18 workshops of traditional Portuguese arts and crafts, keeping alive a highly important body of intangible heritage and knowledge, and ensuring specialised conservation and restoration of Portuguese heritage. The Foundation also runs a school dedicated to the teaching of arts and crafts, the Institute of Arts and Crafts, in which our mission to preserve knowledge and heritage takes top priority. After several decades, the Foundation continues to be a prestigious reference in the dissemination and preservation of Portuguese decorative arts heritage and knowledge.

The Founder

Ricardo Ribeiro do Espírito Santo Silva, collector and patron, was born in Lisbon in 1900 and died prematurely in 1955

He was a banker and entrepreneur by profession, a soul of poet and artist, patron of letters and the arts and an art collector out of passion – which meant that he was considered a true “Prince of the Renaissance”.

Imbued with an extraordinary spirit of public service, almost missionary, he dedicated his life to gathering with artistic coherence and bringing back to Portugal, buying at auctions or from private collectors, a unique artistic heritage that, due to the vicissitudes of history, was dispersed and, in some cases, considered “missing”.

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