Roquemont stood with paintings of customs

29 de November, 2023

In 1843 (180 years ago), August Roquemont stood out in Lisbon, at the Triennial Exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts, with some paintings of customs.


Considered an uninteresting subject until then, it was worth Almeida Garrett’s comment when, in front of one of the paintings on display, he proclaimed about the painter: “a legitimate Portuguese artist, as I hope all our naturalists will always be”.


The natural son of the German prince and general Frederick Augustus of Hesse-Darmstad, he was born on 2 June 1804 in Geneva, Switzerland. At the age of 8 he began his studies at a school in Paris and at the age of 14 he went to Italy, where he stayed until 1827 to do his artistic training. Rome, Venice, Bologna and Florence were the cities where he studied. In 1820, he won first prize in an exam at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.

He came to Portugal in 1828 at his father’s request. The prince was politically supporting King Miguel I, whom he had met in Vienna. Roquemont, as his private secretary, accompanied him during his stay in Portugal and stayed on after his return to Germany.


The north of the country was chosen as the place of residence and Guimarães and Porto were the most important cities in which he lived. The former is linked to the beginning of his stay in Portugal, where he was a guest of the Count of Azenha – a supporter of King Miguel – and spent long periods there. This approach influenced his appointment in 1831 as Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Marine and Commerce, a post he turned down in order to devote himself entirely to painting.


After occasional stays in Lisbon, in 1847 he settled permanently in Porto, where he died in 1852.


Master of Francisco José Rezende and João Correia, he profoundly marked the first generation of romantic painters. Attentive to the realism with which Roquemont treated his portraits and to the novelties introduced into Portuguese painting, through landscape and customs paintings – one of Romanticism’s favourite themes – they allowed themselves to be influenced, contributing to a beneficial teacher training that would bear fruit in the second half of the 19th century. In addition to oil painting, Roquemont also worked in pencil, charcoal and smudge.


Image: Oil on canvas Procissão (Procession) by August Roquemont on display in the long-term exhibition