Figure of an Immortal is October’s Object of the Month

27 de October, 2023

The Soares dos Reis National Museum is presenting, under the heading The Object of the Month – The Public’s Choice, The Figure of an Immortal. The commented sessions in Portuguese take place on 20 October (13h30) and 21 October (11h30).



Research into this artwork suggests that it belonged to the Natural History collection of the prestigious Casa Bertrand booksellers, which the collector João Allen acquired in Lisbon. The piece is part of a group of Chinese figures that take us back to the 18th century and the fascinating taste for collecting rarities.

João Francisco Allen (1781-1848) was a merchant of English (more specifically Irish) origin, born in Viana do Castelo on 1 May 1781. The son of Duarte Guilherme Allen, the British consul in Viana do Castelo, he was decorated with the Order of the Tower and Sword for his bravery in the Peninsular War, for which he volunteered.



He was one of the promoters of the creation of the Crystal Palace, as well as Porto’s first bank, Banco Comercial.



He founded the Novo Museu Portuense or Allen Museum, the first private museum to have printed catalogues in Portugal (the first was published in 1853), and was a renowned art critic.



The extraordinary collection assembled by João Allen was bought after his death by the City Council, becoming part of the collection of the original Municipal Museum and today being deposited in the Soares dos Reis National Museum.