Variations on a Theme: Portuguese Tiles in Aveiro

Infinite Patterns

Beautiful hand-painted decorative tiles cover the interior and exterior of  many buildings in Portugal, the most famous works found churches, palaces, schools, and train stations. Patterned ceramic tiles were introduced to Spain and Portugal by the Moors in the 13th century. Known as azulejos, the painted tin-glazed ceramic tiles were used for both artistic and utilitarian purposes. At the height of  azulejo popularity in Portugal, blue and white figured tiles covered flat surfaces with scenes of Portuguese history, cupids hanging from vines, historical figures, the lives of the saints, or architectural and floral elements. But not all of tile surfaces were so grand. Walk down any street in Aveiro and be amazed by the infinite number of tile patterns used purely for surface decoration, patterns that go on into infinity.

In the mid-19th century, Brazilian immigrants introduced industrialized tile production. As the Portuguese adopted the Brazilian fashion of decorating the facades of businesses and houses, Lisbon factories began using transfer-print methods to produce large quantities of blue-and-white or polychrome patterned azulejos.  As I walked through Aveiro last week, I tried to find two facades with matching tiles—No such luck. I’m not sure of the age of the tiles in the gallery. Most appear to be transfer-prints, but one or two may be hand-painted.

 

 

Lisbon: Some of its Churches

As some of you may know from old posts, I am non religious but I love old churches and religious art and objects. Three churches have stood out for me in the last two days and all are quite different.

Catholicism played a big role in both the development and the expansion of Portuguese culture. It has only been since the 1970s, and the end of a long term dictatorship, that church and state were finally separated.

I’ll start with my favorite so far.

The Jesuit Church of St. Roch.

Unremarkable on the outside, the mid-16th century Church of St. Roch is an explosion of gold on the inside. While the simple floorplan follows the Jesuit auditorium-church plan, the interior decoration is flamboyant Baroque.

The single nave has a flat wooden ceiling with false domes painted on it. Eight side chapels line the nave.

The Chapel of St John the Baptist, ordered by King Juan V in 1540, was constructed in Rome, blessed by the pope, then disassembled and shipped to Lisbon on three ships. It was said to be the most expensive chapel ever built at the time.

The three large paintings are actually micromosaic copies of paintings. The altar frony is lapis lazuli. Most of the altar decorations are gold or gilt silver or bronze.

Many of the valuable or fragile altar good and vestments made for use in the chapel are now housed in the museum adjoining the church.

The other seven side chapels are also splendid, and gold leaf predominates.

Chapel of Our Lady of Piety.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Doctrine

Gold, diamond and amethyst item in museum.

Color Your World 2018: 120 Days of Crayola – Mac & Cheese

The Last Color

Wall decoration, Melk Abbey, Austria

The last color for  Jennifer’s Color Your World 2018: 120 Days of Crayola, a 4 month (January 1, 2018 to April 30, 2018) blogging challenge event. Each day has a new color theme based on a past or current crayon color in Crayola’s box of 120 crayons.

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