THE RICARDO DO ESPÍRITO SANTO SILVA FOUNDATION
The Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation was created in 1953 by the banker and collector Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva. It is constituted, from the beginning, by the Museum-School of Decorative Arts, installed in the Azurara Palace – classified as Immovable Heritage of Public Interest – which houses an important Art Collection donated by its Founder, dedicated to the maintenance of the art of “know-how” and the preservation of the specialized techniques of traditional arts and crafts.
Its purpose is to protect and disseminate the Portuguese Decorative Arts and the crafts related to them.
It was supervised by the State Portuguese until the publication of the new Framework Law of Portuguese Foundations of 2012.
Besides the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Foundation today hosts 16 workshops of traditional Portuguese arts and crafts, keeping alive a highly important body of intangible heritage and knowledge, and ensuring specialized conservation and restoration of Portuguese heritage. The Foundation also runs a school dedicated to the teaching of arts and crafts, the Escola de Artes e Ofícios, 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.
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”.