Soares dos Reis National Museum
History and museums
National Museum Soares dos Reis (Portuguese: Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis), located in the ancient Carrancas Palace, in Porto, Portugal, is one of the most renowned Portuguese museums.
The museum Soares dos Reis, founded in 1833, is Portugal's first national museum. It displays one of the finest collections of Portuguese art, in particular a gallery of works by Portuguese sculptor António Soares dos Reis, after whom the museum is named.
The museum was founded in 1833 as Museum Portuense by King Peter IV. Initially it was housed in the St Anthony Convent in the centre of Porto and its exhibits consisted of religious art confiscated from convents and works of art from the absolutists, followers of Miguel I of Portugal, who had struggled against Peter IV a year before. During the 19th century the museum made several acquisitions that are still the main nucleus of the collection. In 1911 the museum was named Soares dos Reis in honour of the celebrated Porto sculptor.
In 1942 the museum was transferred from the centre of the city to the old Carrancas Palace, which greatly improved the conditions for the storage and exhibition of the collections. Between 1992 and 2001 the museum was expanded and modernised under a project by architect Fernando Távora.
The palace where the museum is currently housed was built after 1795 as home and factory for the Moraes e Castro family. The project is attributed to Joaquim da Costa Lima Sampaio, and architect who had previously worked on the building of the Hospital of St Anthony and the English Trading Post (Feitoria Inglesa), which were Neo-Palladian buildings designed by English architects based in Porto. This influence explains the style of Carrancas Palace, which follows the Neoclassical style that characterised late 18th and 19th-century architecture in Porto. The interior of the palace was decorated with stucco work attributed to the Italian Luis Chiari as well as wall paintings.
During the Peninsular War, the Carrancas Palace was sequentially used as residence by General Soult, headquarters for the Duke of Wellington and residence for General Beresford. During the Siege of Porto (1832), King Peter IV used the palace as headquarters for four months.
In 1861, King Peter V bought the palace and turned it into the official residence of the Portuguese monarchs in Porto. It was kept in this condition until the end of the monarchy, in 1910. In 1942 the National Museum Soares dos Reis was inaugurated in the Carrancas Palace.
The museum has a vast collection mainly focused on Portuguese art of the 19th and 20th centuries, including painting, sculpture, furniture, metalwork and ceramics. Artists represented include painters Domingos Sequeira, Vieira Portuense, Augusto Roquemont, Miguel Ângelo Lupi, António Carvalho de Silva Porto, Marques de Oliveira, Henrique Pousão, Aurélia de Souza, Dórdio Gomes, Júlio Resende and sculptors Soares do Reis, Augusto Santo, António Teixeira Lopes, Rodolfo Pinto do Couto and many others.