Pedro Vitorino, pioneer of radiography in artworks

20 de January, 2024

Roberto de Carvalho and Pedro Vitorino are responsible for carrying out the first radiographies to artworks in Portugal.


Specialist in Radiology, while scholar and promoter of History, Painting and Archaeology of Porto, Pedro Vitorino produced an extensive set of edited books and articles in various periodical publications.


The first radiography of paintings in Portugal happened in 1923, solicited by Carlos Bonvalot, in an occasion in which similar initiatives occurred in other countries. It was an unique event that only had continuity in 1928, when Roberto de Carvalho and Pedro Vitorino started a systematic project that gave origin to a very significant number of radiographies.


Among the radiographed and mentioned paintings in publications are several that are found in the Soares dos Reis National Museum’s collection: Portrait of Princess Margarida da Valois, by Francisco Clouet; Holy Trinity, by Cristóvão de Figueiredo; Annunciation, by Gaspar Vaz; Virgin of the Milk or S. Jerónimo, by Mestre da Lourinhã.


Joaquim Pedro Vitorino Ribeiro was born in Porto, on January 20th, 1882. He frequented the Porto Medical-Surgical School, where, in 1910, concluded the Medicine course. Promptly, took off to Paris, where he specialised in Radiology.


He came back to Porto in 1911. In 1919, he was nominated as clinical assistant at Santa Casa da Misericórdia and head of the Radiology and Photography Laboratory at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, where, since 1913, had the functions of chief of the Fotography and Electrotherapy’s Office.


Alongside his academic training and medical career, he developed many other humanitarian and cultural activities. He was a military officer (Infantry volunteer in 1901, second lieutenant in 1911, lieutenant doctor in 1915 and captain in 1918), having participated in the First World War, since he was a part of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps as a militia medical captain that left for Paris in April 1918.

He worked at the Porto’s Municipal Museum (1922-1938), where he held the positions of conservator and Deputy director, however he left this institution in 1938 to take over the position of chief of the Radiology Services of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto.

He travelled through various European countries, such as Spain, France, Belgium and Switzerland and took part in archaeological and artistic journeys around the country, drawing, painting and taking photographs.

Owner of a large iconographic patrimony and an extensive library, which is being preserved by the Municipal Public Library of Porto, Pedro Vitorino lived with his brother, in Contumil, in a house that belonged to their father and ended up turning into the House-Museum Vitorino Ribeiro.

He passed away in Vila Nova de Gaia, on November 10th, 1944.

Photo credits: Porto Municipal Archive