180th Birth Anniversary of José Simões de Almeida

24 de April, 2024

Born in Figueiró dos Vinhos on 24 April 1844, José Simões de Almeida (his uncle) was the first sculpture scholarship holder from the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts to study abroad (António Soares dos Reis was the first from the Oporto Academy).


In 1855, at the age of 11, Simões de Almeida started as an apprentice in the iron foundry workshop at the Arsenal da Marinha, where his father was head. From an early age, he began to learn the secrets of foundry techniques, moulding and workshop practices, later moving on to the carver’s section.


The revelation of the young apprentice’s aptitudes led to him being granted a licence to attend the drawing course at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts.

In Paris, until 1870, he attended the Imperial School of Fine Arts and the lessons of Professor François Jouffroy (1806-1882). In 1872, he returned to Portugal because of the Franco-Prussian War, after joining a student battalion. From Lisbon he travelled to Rome, where he came into contact with various sculpture collections and met António Soares dos Reis.


Soares dos Reis is also the author of the Portrait of Simões de Almeida (pictured), which belongs to the collection of the Soares dos Reis National Museum. This medallion was cast in bronze in 1940 by the Centenary Executive Committee, reproducing the original plaster model dated 1884.


Simões de Almeida taught drawing and sculpture at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts for 31 years, where he trained several generations of artists. He was also acting director of the National Museum of Ancient Art between 9 March and 5 July 1905.


Source: PEREIRA, José Fernandes (dir.) – Dicionário de escultura portuguesa. Lisbon : Caminho, 2005.