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Art and culture


From Prehistory to the late Middle Ages

Prehistoric sites such as the megaliths around Évora, the rock engravings in the Vale do Côa, as well as Iron Age ruins in Citânia de Briteiros , and the Roman remains at Conímbriga , Tróia and Évora will interest the lover of Antiquity. There are also small pre-Romanesque churches that recall the different architectural influences that swept across the Iberian Peninsula from the north and the east. These influences include Visigothic (Igreja de São Pedro de Balsemão near Lamego and Igreja de Santo Amaro in Beja), Mozarabic (Capela de São Pedro de Lourosa in Oliveira do Hospital) and Byzantine (Capela de São Frutuoso near Braga).

The Middle Ages (11C–15C)

Romanesque art

The Romanesque influence arrived in Portugal in the 11C. Brought from France by Burgundian knights and monks, it retained many French traits. Nevertheless, the influence of Santiago de Compostela, particularly in northern Portugal, produced a style more Galician than French, which was further enhanced through the use of granite. Monuments have a massive and rough appearance with capitals that show the granite’s resistance to the mason’s chisel.

Cathedrals were rebuilt at the same time as local fortified castles and often resemble them. The cathedrals in Coimbra, Lisbon, Évora, Oporto and Braga are good examples. Country churches, built at a later date, sometimes have richly carved main doorways. The interior design, frequently including pointed arches and even groined vaulting, was often transformed by Manueline or Baroque additions.

Gothic art

While the Romanesque style blossomed in chapels and cathedrals in the north, Gothic architecture developed most vigorously at the end of the 13C in Coimbra and Lisbon in the form of large monasteries. The churches, designed with a nave and two corresponding aisles with polygonal apses and apsidal chapels, retain the proportions and simplicity of the Romanesque style. The Mosteiro de Alcobaça served as a model for the 14C cloisters of the cathedrals in Coimbra, Lisbon and Évora. Flamboyant Gothic found its most perfect expression in the Mosteiro da Batalha even though this was only completed in the Manueline period.


Gothic sculpture developed in the 14C for the adornment of tombs, but barely featured as decoration on tympana and doorways. Capitals and cornices were ornamented only with geometric or plant motifs with the exception of a few stylised animals or occasional human forms (capitals in the Mosteiro de Celas in Coimbra). Funerary art flowered in three centres, Lisbon, Évora and Coimbra from where, under the influence of Master Pero , it spread into northern Portugal, principally to Oporto, Lamego, Oliveira do Hospital and São João de Tarouca. The most beautiful tombs, those of Inês de Castro and Dom Pedro in the Mosteiro de Alcobaça, were carved from limestone. Coimbra’s influence continued into the 15C under João Afonso and Diogo Pires the Elder . A second centre developed at Batalha inspired by Master Huguet (tombs of Dom João I and Philippa of Lancaster).

Military Architecture

The Portuguese, in the wars first against the Moors and then the Spanish, built castles. The first examples mark the successive stages of the Reconquest , the second, dating from the 13C to the 17C, guard the major routes of communication. Most of these castles, built in the Middle Ages, are similar in style, double perimeter walls circling a keep or Torre de Menagem , crowned with pyramid capped merlons, a trace of the Moorish influence.

The Manueline Period (1490–1520)

The Manueline style marks the transition from Gothic to Renaissance in Portugal; its name recalls its appearance during the reign of Manuel I. Despite the brevity of the period in which it developed, the Manueline style’s undeniable originality has given it major importance in all aspects of Portuguese art.

It reflects the passion, which inspired all of Portugal at the time, for the sea and of faraway territories which had just been discovered, and manifests the strength and riches accumulating on the banks of the Tagus.


Churches remained Gothic in their general plan, in the height of their columns and network vaulting – but novelty and movement appeared in the way columns were twisted to form spirals; triumphal arches were adorned with mouldings in the form of nautical cables; ribs of plain pointed arched vaulting were given heavy liernes in round or square relief; these, in their turn, were transformed by further ornamentation into four-pointed stars or were supplemented by decorative cables occasionally intertwined into mariners’ knots. The contour of the vaulting itself evolved, flattening out and resting on arches supported on consoles. The height of the aisles was increased, so giving rise to true hall-churches.


The Manueline style shows its character in the form of decoration. Windows, doorways, rose windows and balustrades are covered with sprigs of laurel leaves, poppy heads, roses, corn cobs, acorns, oak leaves, artichokes, cardoons, pearls, scales, ropes, anchors, terrestrial globes, armillary spheres and lastly the Cross of the Order of Christ, which forms a part of every decorative scheme.


Diogo de Boytac was responsible for the first Manueline buildings, the Igreja do Convento de Jesus at Setúbal, and the cathedral (sé) at Guarda. He also contributed to the construction of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, Lisbon, the Igreja do Mosteiro da Santa Cruz in Coimbra and the Mosteiro da Batalha. His artistry lay in magnificent complication: twisted columns, of which he was the master, were covered with overlapping laurel leaves, scales and rings; doorways, which were a major element in Manueline art, stood in a rectangular setting bordered by turned columns crowned with spiralled pinnacles; in the centre of the whole or above it stood the Manueline emblems of the shield, the Cross of the Order of Christ and the armillary sphere.

Mateus Fernandes , whose art was distinctly influenced by the elegance of Flamboyant Gothic, brought a Manueline touch to Batalha. Decoration, which he usually designed as an infinitely repeating plant, geometric or calligraphic motif, takes precedence over volume – the doorway to the Capelas Imperfeitas (Unfinished Chapels) at Batalha is outstanding for the exuberance of its decoration.

Diogo de Arruda was the most original Manueline artist. He designed the famous and marvellously inventive Tomar window . Nautical themes were a positive obsession with this artist.

Francisco de Arruda was the architect of Lisbon’s Torre de Belém. He rejected the decorative excesses of his brother, preferring the simplicity of Gothic design embellished with Moorish motifs.

The Arruda brothers were recognised equally as the “master architects of the Alentejo”, where they displayed their skill in combining the Manueline style with Moorish themes which gave rise to an entirely new style, the Luso-Moorish . This is characterised by the horseshoe arch adorned with delicate mouldings. Most of the seigneurial mansions and castles in the Alentejo, as well as the royal palaces in Sintra and Lisbon, bear the stamp of this style.

Simultaneously, as Manueline architecture was reaching its peak at the end of the 15C, Portuguese sculpture came under Flemish influence due to Olivier de Gand and Jean d’Ypres – their masterpiece is the carved wooden altarpiece in Coimbra’s Sé Velha. Diogo Pires the Younger followed, adopting Manueline themes in his work, the best example of which is the font in the Mosteiro de Leça do Bailio (1515).

In the early 16C artists came from Galicia and Biscay to work in northern Portugal. There they helped build the churches at Caminha, Braga, Vila do Conde and Viana do Castelo. The obvious influences in their work are Flamboyant and Spanish Plateresque. From 1517 onwards, two Biscayan artists, João and Diogo de Castilho worked successively in Lisbon, Tomar and Coimbra. Their art, which had much of the Plateresque style in it, became integrated in the Manueline style (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos).

Painting from 1450 to 1550

The Primitives (1450–1505)

The early painters were influenced by Flemish art, which was introduced into Portugal partly through the close commercial ties between Lisbon and the Low Countries.

Only Nuno Gonçalves , author of the famous São Vicente polyptych remained truly original, not least in the way the picture’s composition evoked a tapestry more than a painting. Unfortunately none of his other works are known except for the cartouches for the Arzila and Tangier tapestries which hang in the Collegiate Church of Pastrana in Spain.

A group of “masters”, including the Master of Sardoal , left a good many works that may be seen throughout the country’s museums in the sections on Portuguese Primitives. Among the Flemish painters who came to Portugal, Francisco Henriques and Carlos Frei stand out for their rich use of colour.

The Manueline Painters (1505–50)

The Manueline painters created a true Portuguese School of painting which was characterised by delicacy of design, beauty and accuracy of colour, realism in the composition of the backgrounds, life-size human figures and an expressive naturalism in the portrayal of people’s faces tempered, however, with a certain idealism. The major artists in the school worked in either Viseu or Lisbon.

The Viseu School was headed by Vasco Fernandes , known as Grão Vasco (Great Vasco), whose early works, including the altarpiece at Lamego, reveal Flemish influence. His later work showed more originality, a richness of colour as well as a sense of the dramatic and of composition (as in his paintings from Viseu cathedral which may now be seen in the town’s Museu Grão Vasco). Gaspar Vaz , whose works can be seen in the Igreja São João de Tarouca, began painting at the Lisbon School, but painted his best pictures while at Viseu.

The Lisbon School – established around Jorge Afonso , painter for King Manuel I – saw the development of several very talented artists:

Ο Cristóvão de Figueiredo evolved a technique that recalls the later impressionists and the use of black and grey in portraiture. His style was imitated by several artists including the Master of Santa Auta in his altarpiece for the original Igreja da Madre de Deus in Lisbon.

Ο Garcia Fernandes , archaic in style, showed a preciosity in his portraits.

Ο Gregório Lopes , whose line and modelling were harsher, painted Court life. He excelled in backgrounds which present contemporary Portuguese life in exact detail (altarpiece in the Igreja de São João Baptista in Tomar).

The Renaissance

The Renaissance style, which retained its essential Italian and French characteristics in Portugal, spread – particularly in sculpture – from Coimbra, where several French artists had settled.

Nicolas Chanterene , whose style remained entirely faithful to the principles of the Italian Renaissance, undertook the decoration of the north door of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém before becoming the master sculptor of the Coimbra School. The pulpit in the Igreja da Santa Cruz in Coimbra is his masterpiece. Jean de Rouen excelled in altarpieces and low reliefs, as may be seen in the Mosteiro de Celas in Coimbra. Houdart succeeded Nicolas Chanterene in 1530 at Coimbra as grand master of statuary. His sculptures are easily recognisable for their realism.

The advance in architecture, which came later than in the other arts, was brought about by native Portuguese: Miguel de Arruda introduced a classical note to Batalha after 1533; Diogo de Torralva completed the Convento de Cristo in Tomar; Afonso Álvares began the transition to classical design by giving buildings a monumental simplicity.

Classical art

The classical period saw the triumph of the Jesuit style with Filippo Terzi , an Italian architect who arrived in Portugal in 1576, and Baltazar Álvares (1550–1624); churches became rectangular in plan and were built without transepts, ambulatories or apses.

Painting came under Spanish influence and produced only two major artists: Domingos Vieira (1600–78), whose portraits are vividly alive, and Josefa de Ayala, known as Josefa de Óbidos (1634–84). A feeling for classical composition is apparent in the work of the gold and silversmiths of the period. The 17C was marked by the Indo-Portuguese style of furniture, typified by marquetry secretaries, rare woods and ivory.

Barique art (Late 17C–18C)

The Baroque style, which owes its name to the Portuguese word barroco – a rough pearl – corresponds to the spirit of the Counter Reformation.


Baroque architecture abandoned the symmetry of the classical style and sought movement, volume, a sense of depth through the use of curved lines and an impression of grandeur. The beginning of Baroque architecture coincided with the end of Spanish domination. In the 17C, architecture took on an austere and simple appearance under João Nunes Tinoco and João Turiano , but from the end of the century onwards façades became alive with angels, garlands and the interplay of curving lines, particularly at Braga. The architect João Antunes advocated an octagonal plan for religious buildings (Igreja da Santa Engrácia in Lisbon). In the 18C King João V invited foreign artists to Portugal. The German Friedrich Ludwig and the Hungarian Mardel , both trained in the Italian School, brought a monumental style, best be seen in the Mosteiro de Mafra.

True Baroque architecture developed in the north and can be seen in both religious and civic buildings (Igreja de Bom Jesus near Braga and Solar de Mateus near Vila Real), where the whitewashed façades contrast with the pilasters and cornices which frame them. In Oporto, Nicolau Nasoni , of Italian origin, adorned façades with floral motifs, palm leaves and swags, while in Braga, architecture bordered on Rococo in style (Palácio do Raio in Braga, Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena in Falperra).


Azulejos and Talha Dourada were popular forms of decoration, the latter being the Portuguese name for the heavily gilded wood used in the adornment of church interiors, including, from 1650 onwards, high altarpieces which were first carved before being gilded. In the 17C altarpieces resembled doorways; on either side of the altar, surrounded by a stepped throne, twisted columns rose up while the screen itself was covered in decorative motifs in high relief including vines, bunches of grapes, birds and cherubim. Altarpieces in the 18C were often out of proportion, invading the ceiling and the chancel walls. Entablatures with broken pediments crowned columns against which stood atlantes or other statues. Altarpieces were also surmounted by baldaquins.


Many statues, generally in wood, were to be found on the altarpieces that decorated the churches. In the 18C statuary largely followed foreign schools: at Mafra, the Italian Giusti and his colleagues instructed many Portuguese sculptors, among them Machado de Castro ; in Braga, Coimbra and Oporto, Laprade represented the French School; at Arouca, the Portuguese Jacinto Vieira gave his carvings a very personal, lively style. The idea of the Baroque cribs (presépios) , that can be seen in many churches, originate from southern Italy. In Portugal they are more naive but not without artistic merit. The figures in terracotta are often by Machado de Castro, Manuel Teixeira or António Ferreira . The talent of the Baroque sculptors is also evident in the many fountains found throughout Portugal especially in the Minho region.

The monumental staircase of Bom Jesus near Braga is made up of a series of fountains in the Rococo style.


Painting is represented by Vieira Lusitano (1699–1783) and Domingos António de Sequeira (1768–1837), the latter a remarkable portraitist.

Late 18C–19C


The second half of the 18C saw a return to the classical style, seen in the work of Mateus Vicente (1747–86 – Palácio Real in Queluz), Carlos da Cruz Amarante (Igreja de Bom Jesus), and the Lisbon architects, particularly Eugénio dos Santos who created the Pombal style. In the late 19C when the Romantic movement favoured a revival of former styles, Portugal developed the neo-Manueline, an evocation of the period of the Great Discoveries exemplified by the Castelo da Pena in Sintra, the Palace-Hotel in Buçaco and the Estação do Rossio in Lisbon. At the time azulejos were being used to decorate entire house façades.


Soares dos Reis (1847–89) tried to portray the Portuguese saudade or nostalgia in sculpture; his pupil, Teixeira Lopes (1866–1918), revealed an elegant technique, particularly when portraying children’s heads.


Portuguese painters discovered the naturalistic approach from the Barbizon school in France. Two painters, Silva Porto (1850–93) and Marquês de Oliveira (1853–1927) followed the Naturalist movement, while Malhoa (1855–1933), the painter of popular festivals, and Henrique Pousão (1859–84) were closer to Impressionism; Sousa Pinto (1856–1939) excelled as a pastel artist and Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro (1857–1929) achieved distinction with his portraits and still-life paintings.



The influence of Art Nouveau may be seen in buildings in Lisbon, Coimbra and Leira, while one of the finest examples of Art Deco in Portugal is the Casa de Serralves in Oporto. In the 1930s, the architect Raúl Lino built the Casa dos Patudos in Alpiarça, near Santarém. However, it was only in the 1950s that a noticeable development in housing came about which may be seen in council houses, garden cities and buildings like the Museu Gulbenkian in Lisbon.

The Oporto School of architecture stands out for the modernism it advocates with internationally known architects such as Fernando Távora (b.1923) and Álvaro Siza (b.1933) who was commissioned to restore the Chiado quarter in Lisbon after it was partly destroyed by fire in 1988. The main architectural event in Lisbon in the 1980s was the construction of the post-modern Torres das Amoreiras designed by Tomás Taveira .


Francisco Franco (1885–1955) held great sway over the official sculpture of the period, including the commemorative monuments so popular under Salazar. More recently, João Cutileiro has come to prominence with his original collection of statues (Dom Sebastião in Lagos, and Camões in Cascais), while José Pedro Croft (stonework), Rui Sanches (woodwork) and Rui Chafes (metal) are all contemporary artists who adhere to a more conceptual style of sculpture (installations).


In the early 20C Portuguese painting mainly stuck to Naturalism; only a few artists diverged to follow the general trend; Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (1887–1918), a friend of Modigliani, worked in Paris assimilating the lessons of Cézanne and found his true expression first in Cubism then in a highly coloured variant of Expressionism; his friend Santa Rita (1889–1918), who died unexpectedly, made a great contribution to the Portuguese Futurist movement but destroyed much of his work. Almada Negreiros (1889–1970) was influenced by Cubism while at the same time remaining a classical draughtsman. He was also a poet and playwright. He painted the large frescoes in Lisbon’s harbour stations in 1945 and 1948. Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908–92), who moved to Paris in 1928, derived her art from the Paris School, although in her space paintings the azulejo influence may be seen.

Among the best known contemporary painters are Paula Rego (b.1935), who draws upon Op-Art, Júlio Pomar , Lourdes Castro, José de Guimarães and, more recently, Julião Sarmento, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Alberto Carneiro (installations), Pedro Calapez (abstraction and volumetric forms), Álvaro Lapa, Pedro Portugal, Pedro Casquiero (abstraction), Graça Morais and Pedro Proença (allegorical images).


Ever since the 15C the azulejo has been a component of the different styles of Portuguese architecture that have followed one another through the centuries.

There is some controversy as to the etymological origin of the word azulejo ; some say it comes from azul meaning blue, others that it in fact derives from the Arabic az-zulay or al zuleich which means a smooth piece of terracotta.


The first azulejos came from Andalucía in Spain where they were used as decoration in alcázars and palaces. They were introduced into Portugal by King Manuel I who, having been dazzled by the Alhambra in Granada, decided to have his Sintra palace decorated with these rich ceramic tiles. Azulejos at that time took the form of alicatados , pieces of monochrome glazed earthenware cut and assembled into geometric patterns. The process was superseded by that of the corda seca in which a fine oil and manganese strip were used to separate the different enamels, and when fired, blackened to form an outline for the various motifs. Another method for separating the motifs was known as aresta and consisted of drawing ridges in the clay itself. In the 16C the Italian Francesco Nicoloso introduced the Italian majolica technique, in which the terracotta was covered with a layer of white enamel which could then be coloured. Azulejos thus developed into another type of artistic medium with a wide range of decorative possibilities. The Portuguese created a standard square with 14cm/5.5in sides and opened their own workshops in Lisbon.

Renaissance and Mannerist styles

Towards the middle of the 16C Flemish influence took precedence over Spanish, and more complex azulejo panels were used to decorate churches; the transept in the Igreja São Roque in Lisbon is a good example. Azulejos were in great demand for decorating summer houses and gardens. The finest examples may be seen at Quinta da Bacalhoa and date from 1565. They consist of wonderful multicoloured panels with an Italian majolica-ware quality, which illustrate allegories of great rivers. The panel of Nossa Senhora da Vida, in the Museu do Azulejo in Lisbon, dates from the same period.


Portugal entered a period of austerity under Spanish domination. In order to decorate church walls without incurring great expense, simple monochrome tiles were used and placed in geometric patterns. The Igreja de Marvila in Santarém is a fine example. A style known as tapete , a sort of tile-carpet or tapestry, was developed, repeated in blocks of four, 16 or 36 tiles, which resembled oriental hangings on account of their geometric or floral patterns.

The restoration of the monarchy was followed by a period of great creative development. There was a return to figurative motifs on panels with illustrations of mythological scenes or caricatures of contemporary society life. Traditional blues and yellows were enhanced by greens and purples; there are fine examples at the Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira in Lisbon. Little by little, multicoloured tiles gave way to cobalt blue motifs on a white enamel background as may be seen in the Victory Room of the Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira.


Tiles in the 18C were almost exclusively blue and white. This fashion developed from Chinese porcelain, popular at the time of the Great Discoveries. Azulejos were decorated by true artists and masters including António Pereira , Manuel dos Santos and especially António de Oliveira Bernardes and his son Policarpo . Their works include the Capela dos Remédios in Peniche, the Igreja de São Lourenço in Almansil and the Forte de São Filipe in Setúbal.

The reign of João V (1706–50) was characterised by magnificence, with gold from Brazil funding all manner of extravagance. The taste of the day was for dramatic effect which expressed itself particularly well in azulejos . Panels became veritable pictures, with surrounds of intermingling festoons, tassels, fluttering angels and pilasters – the Baroque style in full bloom. The main artists at the time were Bartolomeu Antunes and Nicolau de Freitas . The second half of the 18C was marked by the Rocaille style (rock and shell motifs). There was also a return to polychromy with yellow, brown and purple being the dominant colours; painting became more delicate; smaller motifs were popular and frames were decorated with scrolls, plant motifs and shells as may be seen at the Palácio de Queluz, particularly along the Grand Canal. The opening of the Fábrica Real de Cerâmica in Rato in 1767 meant that azulejos could be manufactured in great quantity. The neoclassical style during the reign of Maria I is notable for the refreshing subject matter of its tiles which were framed by garlands, pilasters, urns and foliage.


While remaining open to outside influences which are quickly and successfully assimilated, Portuguese literature is nonetheless original and reflects the lyrical and nostalgic spirit – the famous saudade of the people, as in the fado . Poetry has always held a privileged position with, as a figurehead, the monumental work of Camões.

The Middle Ages

The earliest known Portuguese literature dates from the late 12C with the poetry of the troubadours, influenced by Provençal lyricism. There were Cantigas de Amor for male voices, the more popular Cantigas de Amigo and the satirical Cantigas de Escárnio e Maldizer which were collected in anthologies or cancioneiros. The most famous of these, the Cancioneiro Geral, compiled by the Spaniard Garcia de Resende in the 16C, covered all the poetry written in Portuguese and Castilian over more than a century. King Dinis I, a poet himself, imposed the official use of Portuguese in the 13C. Dom Pedro was the major literary figure of the 14C. However, Fernão Lopes (born c.1380–1390), the chronicler of Portuguese kings and queens (Chronicles of Dom Pedro, Dom Fernando, Dom João I and Dom Dinis) , is considered the great name in medieval literature.

The Renaissance

The 16C introduced humanism and a revival of poetry and dramatic art which can be seen at its best in works by Francisco Sá de Miranda (1485–1558), Bernardim Ribeiro (1500–52), author of the famous novel Child and Damsel (Menina et Moça) , António Ferreira (1528–69) in his Lusitanian Poems (Poemas Lusitanos) and Castro ,and especially Gil Vicente (1470–1536), a great dramatist whose 44 plays painted a satirical picture of Portuguese society in the early 16C.

The greatest figure of the period, however, remains Luís de Camões or Camoens (1524–80) who, having demonstrated his virtuosity of verse in The Lyric (A Lírica) , shows himself to be the poet of the Great Discoveries in his vast portrait of The Lusiads ( Os Lusíadas , 1572), which relates the epic voyage of Vasco da Gama in a similar way to the Odyssey . He led an adventurous life, which took him to Morocco (where he lost an eye) and to Goa.


During the 60 years of Spanish domination, Portuguese literature was confined to the Academies in Lisbon and the provinces; Baroque affectation prevailed, but at the same time “Sebastianism” developed, a belief in the return of King Sebastião and the restoration of the country’s independence. Much of the literary output consisted of chronicles and travel narratives including work by Fernão Mendes Pinto (1509–83) who wrote Peregrination (Peregrinação). The Jesuit António Vieira (1608–97) revealed the growing personality of the immense colony of Brazil in his sermons and letters as a missionary.


The Age of Enlightenment was represented in Portugal by scholars, historians and philosophers. Theatre and poetry came under French influence. Manuel MB do Bocage (1765–1805), of French descent, was the great lyric and satirical poet of this century.


Romanticism took a firm hold thanks to Almeida Garrett (1799–1854), who was not only a poet ( Fallen LeavesFôlhas Caídas and Flores Sem Fructo ) and master of a whole generation of poets, but also a theatre reformer, playwright (Frei Luís de Sousa) and novelist (Travels in My HomelandViagens na Minha Terra). The century’s other outstanding poets included António F de Castilho (Amor e Melancolia) and João de Deus .

Alexandre Herculano (1810–77) introduced the historical novel and his História de Portugal was a great success. Among fellow historians, mention should be made of Oliveira Martins . The transition to realism came about with work by Camilo Castelo Branco (1825–90) whose best-known novel Fatal Love (Amor de Perdição) gives an account of society at the time. The end of Romanticism was signalled by the work of the Azorian Antero de Quental (1842–91), whose Odes Modernas were an instrument of social unrest. Eça de Queirós (1845–1900), a diplomat and a novelist, made a critique of the morals of his day through his works (Cousin Bazilis, The Maias, Barbaric Prose, The Sin of Father Amaro (O Primo Basílio , Os Maias , Prosas Bárbaras , O Crime do Padre Amaro). Guerra Junqueiro (1850–1923) wrote satirical and controversial poems.

Contemporary authors

Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), a complex and precursory genius, revived Portuguese poetry by using different names and personae, among them Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, Alberto Caeiro and Bernardo Soares, which enabled him to express himself in different styles. His Book of Disquietude (Livro do Desassossego) was published forty years after his death . Among his contemporaries and successors mention should be made of his friend Mario de Sá Carneiro , who committed suicide at the age of 26 leaving some very fine poems, José Régio (Poems of God and the DevilPoesias de Deus e do Diabo) , Natália Correia , António Ramos Rosa and Herberto Helder . Among the main novelists are Fernando Namora (The Wheat and the ChaffO Trigo e O Joio) , Ferreira de Castro (1898–1974), who drew upon his experiences during a long stay in Brazil ( The Jungle and The MissionA Selva, A Missão ), Carlos de Oliveira (1921–81), who wrote about life in small villages (Uma Abelha na Chuva) , Manuel Texeira Gomes (Letters with No MoralCartas sem nenhuma moral) , Urbano T. Rodrigues (Bastards of the SunBastardos do Sol) , Agustina Bessa Luís ( The SibylA Sibila and Fanny Owen ), as well as regionalist authors like Aquilino Ribeiro and Miguel Torga . Vergílio Ferreira first wrote neo-realistic novels before adopting a very personal style in which he tackles existential problems (Aparição).

Over the last few decades Portuguese literature has undergone a veritable revival with writers such as José Cardoso Pires (Ballad of Dog’s BeachBalada da Praia dos Cães) , Lídia Jorge (A Costa dos murmúrios , Notícia da Cidade Silvestre) , Vitorino Nemésio and his beautiful novel Mau Tempo no Canal which takes place in the Azores, António Lobo Antunes (South of Nowhere and An Explanation of the BirdsO Cús de Judas, Explicação dos Pássaros) , Sofia de Melo Breyner , whose work is mainly poeticaland in a similar vein to Nuno Júdice (Theory of Sentiment , A Field in the Depths of Time) , and Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago , who mixes all the great legends and figures of Portuguese history, including João V and Fernando Pessoa in his novels (Memorial do Convento, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ) .

Mention should also be made of the philosopher Eduardo Lourenço (O Labirinto da Saudade), Eugénio de Andrade , a major, prolific post-war poet, Almeida Faria who writes about memory, exile and nostalgia, and Maria Judite de Carvalho who is continuing her demanding work (Os Armários Vazios) .

The former Portuguese colonies, particularly Brazil, contribute greatly to Lusitanian literature with authors such as Jorge Amado , José Lins do Rego etc.

Angola also has a tradition of great storytellers and poets such as Luandino Vieira (Velhas Estórias, Nós os de Makuiusu), Pepetela (As Aventuras de Ngunga) and José Eduardo Águalusa (A Nação Crioula, A Estação da Chuva) , as has Mozambique, with Mia Couto (A Varanda do Frangipani, Contos do Nascer da Terra) and Luís Carlos Patraquim (Litemburgo Blues) . In Cape Verde the philologist Baltazar Lopes (Chiquinho) and the storyteller Manuel Lopes (Os Flagelados do Vento Leste) bear witness to the literary wealth of these West African islands.


During the 1930s and 1940s the development of Portuguese cinema was marked by popular-based themes, rural films and moralistic comedies with leading actors such as Beatriz Costa and António Silva. The ideology of the Salazar regime then began to dominate with the almost-official producer António Lopes Ribeiro. From the 1950s onwards, directors became a fundamental part of Portuguese cinema, which became known for its creativity and independence, while the 1960s were marked by the exodus of young Portuguese to France and Great Britain to study cinema. The best known directors of the time were Paulo Rocha , who was Jean Renoir’s assistant, Fernando Lopes (Belarmino) and António de Macedo (Domingo à tarde) . Paulo Rocha distinguished himself in 1963 with The Green Years (Verdes Anos) which made a break with films under the dictatorship and was the precursor for the “Cinema Novo” (New Cinema) movement, the equivalent of “New Wave” in France. He then went on to film in Japan ( The Island of Loves – A Ilha dos Amores and The Mountains of the Moon – As Montanhas da Lua ). Many directors returned to Portugal after the Carnation Revolution to make films with a militant, political bent, such as O Recado , which was produced during the dictatorship by José Fonseca e Costa . Other important directors of the period include António Reis (Jaime) , António Pedro de Vasconcelos (O lugar do Morto) and Lauro António (A manhã Submersa) .

The new generation of directors in the 1980s and 1990s imparted a certain artistic quality to Portuguese cinema. These directors set themselves apart by their great originality and include names such as Joaquim Pinto , João Mário Grilo (O Processo do Rei, Longe da Vista) , João Botelho (A Portuguese FarewellUm Adeus Portugûes, Three Palm Trees – Três Palmeiras and Tráfico) , João César Monteiro (Recollections of the Yellow House – Recordações da Casa Amarela and God’s ComedyA Comédia de Deus), Pedro Costa (O Sangue, A Casa da Lava and Ossos) and Teresa Vilaverde (Os Mutantes) .

Portuguese cinema is dominated abroad by the extraordinary personality of Manoel de Oliveira , born in 1908. His early films were dedicated to his home town, Oporto, where he filmed from 1931 onwards. Later he turned to more imaginary themes and mainly drew upon Portuguese literature with works by Camilo Castelo Branco (Fatal LoveAmor de Perdição and The Day of DespairO Dia do Desespero), and Agustina Bessa Luís (Francisca, adapted from Fanny Owen , which he co-wrote), as well asa number of Italian works such as Dante’s Divine Comedy. French literature also provided him with inspiration, including Le Soulier de Satin by Paul Claudel, Valley of Abraham (Vale Abraão) ,inspired by Flaubert’s Madame Bovary ,and La Lettre , an adaptation of La Princesse de Clèves by Madame de Lafayette, and winner of the Prix du Jury at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. Luís Miguel Cintra and Leonor Silva are actors who have frequently figured in his films, as have international stars such as Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovitch (The Convent) , Michel Piccoli and Irène Papas (Party) , and Chiara Mastroianni (La Lettre) .

The portuguese language

Portuguese is a Romantic language originating from Latin. Although the syntax and etymology are similar to Castilian, the pronunciation is totally different, being closer to French for letters such as j, c, z, ç and ch, but dissimilar with regard to its palato-alveolar fricatives (the pronunciation of s as sh), its nasals and its sibilants. With a very rich and expressive vocabulary, Portuguese lends itself very well to poetry and fado . More than 180 million people worldwide speak Portuguese; it is the seventh most widely spoken language.

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