Acquisition of Aurélia de Souza’s collection of artistic photographs

27 de June, 2024

This week, the Commission for the Acquisition of Cultural Goods for National Museums and Palaces secured the purchase, for around 50,000 euros, of 200 photographic negatives by Aurélia de Souza for the collections of the Soares dos Reis National Museum.


The Soares dos Reis National Museum, as well as researchers such as Maria João Lello Ortigão de Oliveira and Raquel Henriques da Silva, are certain that this is an exceptional collection of artistic photographs taken by a woman painter at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. The study of these photographs will constitute a revolutionary advance in the knowledge of the history of art in Portugal.


The batch of 200 glass plate negatives by the painter, who was born in Chile in 1866, enriches the Museum’s collection dedicated to the artist, of which the famous ‘Self-Portrait’, an oil painting presumed to have been made in Paris around 1900, is classified as a National Treasure.


The set of negatives now acquired is testimony to the use of photography not only as a complementary process to painting, but also as an artistic practice in its own right, with all the experimental components that photography opened up to the eye of a trained painter.


“The practice of photography, which Aurélia de Souza demonstrably practised, lends unquestionable originality to her work and her biography. Aurélia, a painter and photographer, recorded family life, landscapes, models and various compositions, but she also photographed herself in a unique exercise of introspection and transfiguration, so it is with great expectation and interest that we await the reception of this batch of artistic photographs,” emphasises António Ponte, Director of the Soares dos Reis National Museum.


This acquisition will enable a temporary exhibition to be held in the medium term, as well as the presentation of photography in conjunction with painting during the current long-term exhibition, where Aurélia de Souza is one of the most charismatic and relevant presences.


The Commission for the Acquisition of Cultural Goods for National Museums and Palaces is primarily responsible for proposing the acquisition of cultural goods considered fundamental to the collections of national museums, monuments and palaces. It is chaired by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Portuguese Museums and Monuments Authority and is made up of the directors of the National Museum of Ancient Art, the National Tile Museum, the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Ajuda National Palace.