António Soares dos Reis
Patron of the Museum since 1911, António Soares dos Reis, considered one of the greatest Portuguese sculptors of the 19th century, was born on 14 October 1847 in Vila Nova de Gaia.
When he was just 14, he enrolled at the Academia Portuense de Belas Artes, where he won several prizes and commendations. In just a few years he had completed the course, winning 1st prize in drawing, architecture and sculpture.
At the age of 20 he became a state pensioner abroad. Between 1867 and 1870 he stayed in Paris as a pensioner, receiving lessons from Jouffroy, Yvon and Taine. In Paris he received several prizes for his work.
After a brief stay in Portugal, in 1871 he left for Rome, a decisive stage in his training. It was in Rome that he began work on O Desterrado (The Exiled) (1872), a work of classical inspiration, an essay in the transition to naturalism, which was awarded a prize at the General Fine Arts Exhibition in Madrid in 1881.
Returning to Porto in 1873 to devote himself to his artistic career, he collaborated in publications and chaired the Centro Artístico Portuense. From 1881, he taught sculpture at the Academia Portuense de Belas Artes, although he disagreed with the organisation of the teaching.
Soares dos Reis was admired by his contemporaries, received commissions, took part in competitions and exhibitions and designed public monuments. Illness and dissatisfaction led him to commit suicide in his studio in 1889.