140 years since the death of painter Henrique Pousão

1 de March, 2024

Considered one of the biggest names in Portuguese painting in the second half of the 19th century, Henrique Pousão died of tuberculosis at the age of 25 on March 20, 1884.


The young artist attended the Academia Portuense de Belas-Artes and was a state pensioner in France and Italy. His paintings of roads and streets, courtyards, houses and aspects of Paris bear witness to his creative career, which culminated in his stays in Rome and Capri.


His family recognized his talent from an early age, especially in his pencil portraits. At the age of 10, he moved to Barcelos and, in 1872, settled in Porto. It was in this city that he attended the studio of the painter António José da Costa to prepare for his entry into the Academia Portuense de Belas-Artes (1872).


Greatly influenced by Marques de Oliveira, who had returned from Paris in 1879, Pousão won the competition to become a pensioner and arrived in Paris at the end of 1880, accompanied by Sousa Pinto (1856 – 1939).

Before joining the studio of Cabanel and Yvon, he visited art galleries and museums in both Paris and Madrid.

That year, he moved to Rome, where he rented a studio and, in 1882, produced significant artworks, also in Naples and Capri. Landscapes with a poetic and vibrant chromaticism, exercises in capturing light, genre paintings such as Cecília, and portraits, such as Senhora Vestida de Preto (Lady in Black), done in Paris, reveal his modernity, unusual in the Portuguese art scene.


At the end of 1883, already ill, he decided to return to Portugal. He traveled via Genoa, passing through Marseille and Barcelona, where he painted “Cais de Barcelona” (pictured opposite).


In March 1884, a few days before his death, he painted “A bouquet of flowers” (top image).


His work reveals the boldness and talent of the young painter and his absolute interest in the values of the painting itself to the detriment of the themes or the narrative. After his premature death, his work was given to the Academia Portuense de Belas Artes.


In the collection of the Soares dos Reis National Museum, Henrique Pousão’s work is strongly represented, especially the paintings “Casas Brancas de Capri” (White Houses of Capri), “Senhora Vestida de Preto” (Lady Dressed in Black) and “Janelas das Persianas Azuis” (Windows with Blue Shutters), all classified as national treasures.

Cais de Barcelona, Henrique Pousão