140th Anniversary of birth of José de Oliveira Ferreira - Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis

140th Anniversary of birth of José de Oliveira Ferreira

8 de January, 2024

José de Oliveira Ferreira was born in Porto, in the parish of S. Nicolau, on 8 January 1883. He distinguished himself as a sculptor and was considered “a guide for his generation, for the art and humility that characterised him”.


José de Oliveira Ferreira was apprenticed to the master António Teixeira Lopes while studying at night at the Passos Manuel School of Industrial Design (1895-1898) in Vila Nova de Gaia. He finished his studies at this school and then enrolled at the Escola Portuense de Belas Artes in 1898.


In 1905, together with other fellow students, he called for the reform of the school and of artistic education and completed the Sculpture course with the highest classification, having presented the final exam A woman collapses on a public bench, holding two children.

As a student, he took part in the reconstruction work on the S. Bento Palace, directed by Ventura Terra, and in the production of the sculptural group A Pátria by Teixeira Lopes.


After completing his studies, he continued to collaborate in his master’s studio until, in 1907, he took part in and won the competition for a state pensioner abroad, with The Beggar’s Prison.


At this leading artistic and cultural centre, he studied, among other sculptors, with Mercié (1845-1916), socialised with other compatriot artists (such as the sculptors Costa Mota, Simões de Almeida and João da Silva and the painters Sousa Lopes, Acácio Lino and Amadeo Souza Cardoso), sculpted, exhibited and visited museums.


In 1908, his bust entitled Smile was awarded a prize at the Salon and he produced Ida for the dispensary, a sculptural ensemble in clay. He also sent works to the Exhibition of School Works at the Escola Portuense de Belas-Artes: Head of a Woman, Study in Nature, Head Drawn from Plaster and Mercury.


In 1909, in collaboration with his brother and architect Francisco de Oliveira Ferreira, he took part in the competition for the Monument to the Peninsular War, to be erected in Lisbon, with the winning project entitled Portuguese Aspirants. Winning this competition forced him to interrupt his scholarship. He then returned to Portugal (from December 1910 to January 1911).


In 1912, he worked on the construction of the workshop-house in Miramar (Vila Nova de Gaia), which he had designed himself, and where he lived and worked from 1913 onwards.


In 1930, he took part in the XXVII Exhibition of the National Society of Fine Arts, winning the second medal with the bronze O melhor sono da nossa vida, dedicated to mothers, a work that was placed in Viseu, the sculptor’s mother’s hometown.


In 1931, he won his first medal at the XXVIII Exhibition of the National Fine Arts Society.


Two years later, in 1933, the Monument to the Peninsular War was inaugurated and the sculptor was honoured with the rank of Commander of the Military Order of Santiago de Espada.


José de Oliveira Ferreira was a member of the Council of Art and Archaeology of the North of Portugal.


He died in Miramar, Vila Nova de Gaia, on 3 October 1942.