Categoria de Coleção: National Treasures

The Soares dos Reis National Museum possesses a set of 10 pieces classified as goods of national interest, also known as National Treasures. This classification is attributed to objects of undeniable national value due to their antiquity, authenticity, creativity, exemplarity, memory, originality, rarity or singularity.

The White Houses of Capri

Henrique Pousão (1859-1884)


Oil on canvas

Inventory sheet

Casas Brancas de Capri (The White Houses of Capri) is a landscape by the naturalist painter, Henrique Pousão. It is a work that clearly shows the artist’s exceptional qualities: his talent for composition and his particular sensitivity to the Mediterranean light that accentuates forms and chromatic contrasts.

In late 1881, at the age of 22, Henrique Pousão left Paris for Italy in search of a more favourable climate for his already poor health. He stayed there for about two years, producing some of his most memorable works. This painting, dated 1882, was part of the second batch of scholarship works sent later to the Academia Portuense de Belas Artes. In the Casas Brancas de Capri, Pousão harmoniously combines the sense of narrative, enhancing the motif, with a more synthetic language expressed in the geometric forms of the middle ground architecture.

Self-Portrait of Aurélia de Souza

Aurélia de Souza (1866-1922)

c. 1900

Oil on canvas

Inventory sheet

In this self-portrait, one of the several she painted during her life, the artist presents herself in a manner as enigmatic as disturbing. A small canvas presumably done in Paris around 1900, its unique features distance it from 19th century conventions, giving it an unexpected modernity.

The work highlights the absolute frontality of the suspended figure against its black background. The oval face, which marks the exact centre of the composition, appears like a mask, the self-image that the painter wants (or doesn’t want) to reveal in a double centrality, both physical and mental. The rigorous symmetry stems from the vertical line suggested by the middle of the hair, the face, the cameo, the lace of the blouse and the triangle drawn by the red coat. This, due to the density and extent of the red, takes on an essential formal protagonism. Unanimously considered a masterpiece of self-portraiture in Portugal, this is a painting that has achieved international recognition

Reliquary bust of St Pantaleon

Unknown artist
15th and 16th century
White, gilded and painted silver; enamels; gold, hyaline quartz

Inventory sheet

The cult of St Pantaleon has a long tradition in the Catholic Church and the 3rd and 4th century martyr became one of Porto’s patron saints.

The devotion to St Pantaleon, a doctor martyred in the ancient Greek city of Nicomedia in 303 AD, was established in Porto through the influence of a group of Armenian Christians. According to reports from the time, this group arrived in Porto at the end of the Middle Ages, bringing with them the relics of that saint, which they deposited in the Church of São Pedro de Miragaia. In 1499, by decision of Bishop Diogo de Sousa, the relics were transferred to Porto Cathedral. A fragment of the skull of St Pantaleon was kept in the reliquary bust, used for visiting the sick.

This devotional object, part of Soares dos Reis National Museum’s collections since 1941, is one of the oldest reliquary busts known in Portugal. Due to the absence of similar objects, it is difficult to say exactly when and where it was made or who made it.

Episcopal Crosier

Antonio Arrighi (goldsmith)


Cast silver, chiselled; gilded

Inventory sheet

This crosier comes from a set of pieces belonging to Friar José Maria da Fonseca Évora (Bishop of Porto, 1741-1752). A payment record, dated 10th January 1740, documents its execution in the workshop of the famous Italian goldsmith Antonio Arrighi. Its identification in a portrait of Friar José da Fonseca e Évora led to the origin of the commission being traced back to him.

The crosier is a staff given to a Catholic bishop at his consecration ceremony, surmounted by a curvilinear decorative motif called a crook. It is an object of highly symbolic value, testifying to the power, wealth and importance of the person who commissioned and possessed it.

Throughout the 18th century, the Portuguese court was one of great refinement and splendour. The Church, reflecting that spirit, surrounded itself with precious religious objects, mostly commissioned from Italian goldsmiths, as in the case of this crosier, by the goldsmith, Antonio Arrighi (1687-1776).

The piece, from the former Porto Episcopal Palace, has been part of the Soares dos Reis National Museum collection since 1932.

Count of Ferreira

António Soares dos Reis (1847-1889)


Original plaster

Inventory sheet

Soares dos Reis portrays Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos, Count of Ferreira (1782-1866), wearing the uniform of a Peer of the Realm, including the symbols of the Portuguese coat-of-arms, sash and the Cross of Christ.

The statue was executed in marble for the Agramonte Cemetery in honour of the benefactor, whose legacy to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Porto had provided for the building of 120 primary schools and a hospital for mental diseases – the Count of Ferreira Hospital. The expression of the philanthropist conveys the pleasure felt at the social value of his legacy. There is also great balance in the composition. The Count’s left arm is resting on the pedestal where his cape is draped, while the right elegantly reaches across to the sash holding the gloves. The treatment of the lower limbs further enhances the expressive quality of the work.

The Exiled

António Soares dos Reis (1847-1889)


Carrara marble

Inventory sheet

One of the most important works of 19th century Portuguese sculpture, O Desterrado (The Exiled) was inspired by Alexandre Herculano’s poem, Tristezas do desterro (Sorrows of Exiled). It was Soares dos Reis’ final exam piece in his sculpture course and was made in Rome, where stayed at the Instituto de Santo António dos Portugueses to finish his scholarship abroad.

The marble work’s emotiveness is conveyed by the nostalgic posture of the figure sitting on a rock beaten by the sea. In a broader sense, the work presents us with the image of a solitary, pensive man, which is closely linked to the idea of evasion in the romantic imagination. The longing, the desire to return to the home land, the nostalgia for home, have seemingly formed a dominant state of mind in the seafaring experience of the Portuguese, a plane in which O Desterrado (The Exiled) assumes a higher dimension, one of collective representation.

Window with Blue Shutters

Henrique Pousão (1859-1884)
Oil on wood

Inventory sheet

Painted during one of his stays on the island of Capri in the summers of 1882 and 1883, this small unfinished tablet is the culmination of Pousão’s research begun in works like As Casas Brancas de Capri (The White Houses of Capri) and Paisagem de Anacapri (Anacapri Landscape).

This painting exemplifies the most radical geometric understanding of space and the most complex articulation between colour and form that we can find in the artist’s work. The work presents the fragment of the architectural landscape as a pictorial whole, valid for its plastic interest rather than the quality of the mimicry or the symbolic or narrative value of what it represents. It is this proposal, underscoring the independence of painting, understood as a set of colours, planes and shapes rather than as a vehicle for representing a face, a landscape or a still life, that allows Janela das persianas azuis (Window with Blue Shutters) to be celebrated as a work of early modernity.

Lady in Black

Henrique Pousão (1859-1884)


Oil on wood

Inventory sheet

Painted in Rome in 1882, Senhora Vestida de Preto (Lady in Black) is one of the numerous tablets on which Henrique Pousão would sketch a new project to express his best ideas on painting. Its expressive, cut out dense patches of colour are juxtaposed in a play of chiaroscuro and light-shadow contrasts.

A dominant element of the composition, the black dress is outlined in brushstrokes that structure the form and give movement to the body. The light coming from the right and illuminating the entire composition accentuates the planes of the dress with its subtle grey brushstrokes. The woman’s body, leaning slightly forward, is balanced by the turning of her head as she looks towards the opposite side: the source of the light illuminating the face and projecting the shadow beyond the figure.

Reliquary Cross and Cruet Set

Holy Cross of Christ Reliquary and Eucharistic cruet set


Late 17th / early 18th century

Nephrite jade, gold, gilt silver, rubies and colourless glass [cross];

Nephrite jade, gold, gilt silver, blue glass, quartz, topaz (?) and colourless glass doublets, enamels [cruet set].

Inventory sheet – reliquary cross

Inventory sheet – cruet 1

Inventory sheet – cruet 2

This set comes from Mughal India, an Empire founded in 1526 and extinct by 1857, which occupied territories now belonging to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It was made in the late 17th century and originally belonged to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Alcobaça, given by João V to D. Lourenço de Lencastre, Abbot of this Royal Abbey.

After the dissolution of this monastery, the pieces became part of the private collection of Ferdinand II and, later, of Luís I, within the Royal Treasury kept at Necessidades Palace. It was transferred to the Soares dos Reis National Museum in 1941.

The reliquary cross stands out from the cruet set due to the quality of the execution of the plant motifs engraved on its two plates, where the fragments of the Holy Cross of Christ are displayed. The application of the gold on the jade and the preciousness of the gems enriching it are also remarkable.

Pair of Bracelets

Late Atlantic Bronze / 1st Iron Age – 7th / 6th (end) centuries BC

Randomly found at Rocio de São Sebastião, Castro Verde, Portugal

Gold cast in lost-wax and rolled; incised decoration

Inventory sheet – bracelet 1

Inventory sheet – bracelet 2

These archaeological pieces belonged to the personal collection of the King Consort of Portugal, Ferdinand II (1816-1885), and were held at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon in the second half of the 19th century. In 1941, they were deposited at the Soares dos Reis National Museum.

Recent research has shed light on the history of these pieces, providing information on where they were found and how they were acquired by the king, who recorded all these facts in his own hand.

Part of a random find in southern Portugal, this pair of bracelets is a rare example of protohistoric jewellery – a period of history between the 1st millennium BC and its end. It has special significance and importance, not only in this section of the Museum but also, and above all, in the general context of Portuguese jewellery.

Bearing witness to the flourishing existence of local goldwork from early periods, these solid gold personal adornments reflect knowledge of certain decorative forms, construction techniques and manufacturing processes that are still used today.