Descent from the Cross by Domingos Sequeira at the Museum from June

10 de May, 2024

As of 1 June, ‘Descent from the Cross’ by Domingos Sequeira will be part of the Soares dos Reis National Museum’s long-term exhibition, in a deposit with an initial duration of three years, renewable by agreement between the parties.


On 18 May, International Museum Day, the painting will be exhibited at the Monastery of Leça do Balio, the location of the headquarters of the Livraria Lello Foundation, the private entity that acquired the artwork.


The long-term exhibition at the Soares dos Reis National Museum already has four oils and a significant number of drawings by Domingos Sequeira on display, so ‘Descent from the Cross’ will be exhibited in the same room, enriching the available collection. Preparatory drawings of the work, belonging to the Museum’s collection, will also be exhibited, feeding a “dialogue” between its collection and this valuable new deposit.

The painting was bought on 10 March as part of the TEFAF art and antiques fair in Maastricht, in close cooperation with the public company Museus e Monumentos de Portugal, with which the Livraria Lello Foundation has signed a commitment for the public enjoyment of the artwork.


‘Descent from the Cross’, a sacred painting dating from 1827, is part of a group of four late paintings by Domingos Sequeira, painted in Rome, where the artist died in 1837.


Domingos Sequeira is considered to be the most talented and original Portuguese painter of his time, having played a fundamental role in the development of Portuguese art at the beginning of the 19th century.


The son of a boatman and born into a poor family in 1768, Domingos Sequeira was educated at Casa Pia, where he attended the Drawing and Figure course.


With a royal grant from King Maria I, he received painting and drawing lessons from Antonio Cavallucci in Rome. On his return to Lisbon, he was appointed court painter by the future King João VI and was co-responsible for the painting of the Ajuda Palace. He also taught drawing and painting to the Royal Family and, in 1806, directed the class at the Marine Academy in Porto.


In the context of the French invasions, Domingos Sequeira established friendships with Napoleonic army officers, such as the Count of Forbin, an officer and amateur painter. This approach earned him a commission for an allegorical representation of General Junot’s protective action over Lisbon. The oil on canvas Junot protecting the city of Lisbon dates from 1808 and is in the collection of the Soares dos Reis National Museum.


Thanks to this activity, Sequeira was seen as a collaborator of the occupying enemy and was therefore the target of persecution and condemnation proceedings from which he was only rehabilitated at great cost. The last years of his life were spent in Rome, where he devoted himself mainly to religious painting.