Nacional de Arte Antiga

Our choice of activity on a cloudy day, sixth day of our trip 2 May 2018, was the Nacional de Arte Antiga (MNAA) National Museum of Ancient Art. We started the day with the Miradouro de Santa Catarina.  Despite of the gloomy weather, the open view of Lisbon is nice. Nearby is the Pharmacy and Health Museum.

The visit began with paintings of Lisbon before the earthquake in 1755. Big square, mighty Sao George Castle standing over the hill, big port with numerous ships, extinct buildings reveal the old look of charming Lisbon.


The most popular Panels of St. Vincent was crowded with people.  We arrived at the top floor to appreciate sculptures from the ancient time and then The Adoration of St. Vincent, a multi-panel work from a 15th century Portuguese master, Nuno Goncalves. St. Vincent is surrounded by noblemen and clergymen.  Some faces are repetitive in the different panels.

The museum is dotted with horrified and surreal paintings. We were shock by the terrible scenes at the hell.


Another stunning piece is the Last Judgement. Up the top is Christ with his throne.  Maria and John the Baptist serve both sides. Accountants reviewed ledgers of demons and angels for judging their final destinations. The bad ones were thrown into the hell and the good ones headed to the Glory.

Still ahead came the Temptations of St. Anthony, from Dutch painter Jheronomis Bosch (15-16th century) which is known for his fantastic illustrations of religious concepts and narratives. The painting contains multiple scenes of Christian monk St. Anthony faced  during his desert pilgrimage. He often saw Satan hovering in front of him in his prayers.  And Satan dressed in different ways to hide the evil nature.

On the second floor, 2 large lacquer screens depict the moment that the Portuguese, the first Europeans, landed in Japan. They were seen as villains, with big noses and wicked faces.

There are many beautiful paintings and sculptures.  I can't show you all but a few to make you more interested to visit the museum.  Among all, I like very much The Adoration of the Magi by Domingos António de Sequeira.  The structure of the composition, the holiness and the light are brilliant.


A bit more on the angels in different art pieces: Annunciation and the disastrous earthquake in 1755. It recalled the tragic event with very different scenes, extremely religious not offering assistance to the needed vs. helping the other victims.  The painter Joao Glama showed himself twice in the painting. 


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