170th Birth Anniversary of João Marques de Oliveira

23 de August, 2023

Today, 23 August, marks the 170th Birth Anniversary of João Marques de Oliveira, a realist painter and introducer of naturalism in Portugal, was Director of the Soares dos Reis National Museum from 1913.


Born in Porto, the vocation for drawing expressed since childhood led him, at the age of 11, to join the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, during the school year 1864-1865, in the classes of Historical Drawing, Civil Architecture and Perspective.

Between 1866 and 1869, he exhibited his first works at the 9th and 10th Triennial Exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts. On October 13, 1869, he attended the Historical Painting course, in which he distinguished himself as one of the best students of João António Correia.


In 1873, he went to Paris with his colleague Silva Porto, as a pensioner in the Historical Painting class, while his brother Joaquim Marques da Silva Oliveira also pursued an artistic career, attending the Porto Academy of Fine Arts.


In Paris, Marques de Oliveira continued his studies at the National School of Fine Arts with professors Alexandre Cabanel and M. Yvon and had the opportunity to come into contact with some pictorial movements, such as the naturalism of the Barbizon School and Impressionism, and to visit study in the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy. His works from this period were, on several occasions, awarded with medals and honorable mentions. As a final test of the boarding school, he presented the painting Cephalus and Procris (illustrative image of the article).


On their return to Portugal in 1879, at a turbulent time in Porto’s artistic milieu, dominated by the heated debate on academic reform and the teaching of Fine Arts, Marques de Oliveira e Silva Porto introduced Outdoor Painting in Portugal and were named Academics of Merit from the Porto Academy of Fine Arts.


In this context, in Porto, in 1880, the Centro Artístico Portuense emerged, an association of artists who sought the progress of the arts in Portugal. As in Lisbon Silva Porto intended to launch the Grupo de Leão (Group of the Lion). In the first election for the direction of this institution, the sculptor Soares dos Reis assumed the presidency and Marques de Oliveira the vice-presidency, also integrating the technical council. In this capacity, he organized an acclaimed exhibition, entitled “Bazar do Centro Artístico Portuense”, which took place in the former Palácio de Cristal, between March 27 and April 1881.


By decree of May 26, 1911, the Academies of Fine Arts gave rise to three Art and Archeology Councils, with the Porto District (the 3rd) being responsible for the Portuense Museum, which then became known as the Soares dos Reis Museum.


In 1913 he left his position as director of the Porto School of Fine Arts to take on the role of director of the Soares dos Reis Museum, maintaining, however, his positions in the Art and Archeology Council. In 1926 he was forced to abandon teaching, as he had exceeded the age limit permitted by the new law, but also for health reasons. He died in Porto on October 9, 1927.