The plaster model of the sculpture The Virgin of Victory was bequeathed to the Soares dos Reis National Museum 80 years ago.
The piece was part of the artistic estate of Manuel Maria Lúcio (V. N. Gaia), who bequest it to the museum in 1943.
The plaster cast is a precious specimen with the value of a unique piece, as it exclusively reveals the image as António Soares dos Reis idealised it and carved it in wood for the parish of Vitória, which was later amputated.
A fruit seller from Rua de Camões was António Soares dos Reis’ model for this sculpture. He covered her in classical panelling, composed in multiple unfoldings forming a harmonious arrangement, as was his style, allowing one of the lower limbs to move forward as much as necessary to enliven the sculpture.
The study of the evidence reveals a work of undisputed artistic superiority to which the drawings, which predate the construction of the work, must be invoked. The first two studies contain very vivid shading and definition of lines, in a game of modelling forms in collaboration with the light; they are instantaneous captures, revealing affective involvement, in which the artist finds the inspiration for the theme in a popular figure of a woman.
A work of insistence in search of the ideal framing is extracted from a third drawing, where the desire to visualise the figure as a statue itself is imprinted, whose construction is multiplied in countless contours of movement, with the insertion of iconographic details such as the stick and the half-moon. (…)
By the mid-1970s, Soares dos Reis was determined to stop carving in wood and would turn to portraits and, more rarely, large-scale statuary. Even so, he would still fulfil orders for religious pieces, modelling the Agonising Christ for José Pedreira and the pair of saints for Pestana da Silva’s chapel.
Source SANTOS, Paula M. Mesquita Leite, A escultura religiosa de Soares dos Reis e a iconografia da Virgem para Guimarães. Revista de Guimarães, 112 Jan.-Dez. 2002, p. 385-408.