Unprecedented exhibition of the artwork by José Zagalo Ilharco

2 de February, 2024

Until April 28th, the Soares dos Reis National Museum presents Paisagem (Landscape), an unprecedented exhibition of the artwork by José Zagalo Ilharco, an amateur photographer of great recognition, nationally and internationally awarded.


He dedicated himself specially to landscape photography, with focus on Portuguese cities Matosinhos, Leça da Palmeira, Porto, Lamego, Guarda and Penafiel. His photographic work, composed by more than 260 pictures, also includes a series of portraits of his relatives and friends, as well as the houses where he lived and their gardens.


The title of this exhibition is inspired by the namesake of the photograph of Rio Sousa, awarded in Brussels in 1895.


José Zagalo Ilharco was born on October 31st, 1860, in the parish of Sé, in the city of Lamego, and passes away on November 5th, 1910, in Porto where he became a successful businessman, among others, in the Insurance and Commerce sectors, having also dedicated himself, during his free time, to multiple cultural and recreational activities, with emphasis on amateur photography and floristry, interests he shared with his friend Aurélio Paz dos Reis, a pioneering Portuguese filmmaker.


José Zagalo Ilharco was a founding member and director of the Real Velo Club do Porto. In 1893, the year it was founded, he photographed a group of board members and the Velodrome, located at the back of the Palácio das Carrancas, where the Soares dos Reis National Museum is housed.


With a track for bicycles, the attraction of the space, and two lawn-tennis courts, the Velodrome welcomed new and rising sports among the city’s elite. José Zagalho Ilharco is the author of the only existing photographs of this equipment, highlighted in an article by Vasco Valente, then Soares dos Reis National Museum’s Director, published on the O Tripeiro magazine, in May 1946.

In 1947, his son Norberto, as a testament to his appreciation for his father’s work, compiled reproductions of his best photographs in two albums. All the works that make up this retrospective exhibition are the result of a selection from volume 2, exclusively dedicated to Paisagem (Landscape), whose photographs were printed at the Bazar Foto-Amador in Porto, on February, 1945.


This is the first ever exhibition of José Zagalo Ilharco’s photographic work, presenting a significant part of the works and documents from his estate.


Photographic Credits José Zagalo Ilharco @Private Collection