Vieira Portuense, the most travelled Portuguese artist of his time

13 de May, 2024

Francisco Vieira was born in Porto on 13 May 1765 and died on 12 May 1805 from tuberculosis, one day before his 40th birthday.


He entered official education in 1787, when he enrolled at the age of 21 at the newly created Aula Régia de Desenho in Lisbon. Two years later he continued his studies in Rome, financed by his family and the English Trading Company or, most probably, by the Companhia Geral de Agricultura e das Vinhas do Alto Douro.


Between June 1793 and 1796 he spent a season in Parma to paint and study the work of Antonio da Corregio (c. 1489-1534). During this period, he became friends with the printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) and the Bologna engraver Francesco Rosaspina (1762-1841), with whom he exchanged a great deal of correspondence. It was also at this time that he met the painter Thomson, his future travelling companion to Naples.


He travelled around Parma, Cremona, Colorno and Piacenza, where the poet Giampaolo Maggi dedicated a book to him. He visited the cultural and artistic centres of Italy, Germany and England, which had a profound impact on his work.

Francisco Vieira settled in London from 1789, where he met the famous painter Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and the engraver Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815). During his stay in London, he took part in the 1798 and 1799 editions of the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition, was commissioned to paint the new church of the Venerable Third Order of St Francis of Porto and presented Bodoni with the project of publishing a work on Camões.


In 1800, after his return to Portugal, he was hired by the Board of Directors of the Companhia Geral de Agricultura e das Vinhas do Alto Douro to teach drawing at the Royal Academy of Marine and Commerce in Porto.


Between 1801 and 1802 he worked in Lisbon on the illustrations for an edition of “Os Lusíadas”, promoted by Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho (1801-1802). On 1 July 1803, Francisco Vieira was appointed director of the Royal Academy of Marine and Commerce in Porto.


Vieira Portuense, as Francisco Vieira became known to distinguish himself from Vieira Lusitano, was the most travelled of the Portuguese artists of his time, studying in Europe where he experienced masterpieces of great masters and the most important artists and patrons. A cultured and multilingual man, Francisco Vieira returned to Portugal to share with Domingos Sequeira the status of painter to Regent João VI.


He is represented in the long-term exhibition at the Soares dos Reis National Museum, where we highlight the Escape of Margaret of Anjou (pictured), painted by Francisco Vieira Portuense during the time he lived in London. It was presented at the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition in 1798 and was inspired by David Hume’s History of England, published between 1754 and 1762.


The episode depicted took place during the War of the Two Roses (1455 – 1485), which pitted the families of Lancaster and York against each other in the dispute for the throne of England. The scene depicts a moment when Queen Margaret of Anjou fled with her son Edward to Scotland. This is perhaps the most emotional moment in the entire plot, reinforced here by the positioning of the figures at the mercy of a monumental landscape.



Bibliographic source