The gold craftsmanship includes silver and silver gilded pieces for liturgical use, that is to say, which were used in religious practices and functions (like the silver AMPULLAS and the BURIN DECORATED BASIN, made by the Poito-born goldsmith, João Rodrigues da Costa Negreiros and used in the ceremonies of Feet Washing, on the Holy Thursday) and for profane use (such as, tea sets, salvers, fruit plates, samovar, etc.). The jewellery nucleus is limited to a pair of gold long earrings (arrecadas) from the end of 19th century.
The pieces for religious use proceed from the Monastery of Chagas, in Lamego, founded in 1588 by D. António Teles de Menezes and decreed extinct in 1834. We think, anyway, that the presence of some of them with excellent quality, may be related to the arrival of some foreign dignitaries appointed to the Cathedral of Lamego. The remaining pieces, especially the great secular nucleus, generally dating from 19th-20th centuries, come from private legacies to the Museum since 1959 henceforth.
The most ancient specimen m the collection is a gothic processional golden-brass, with lily-like edges and a chiselled decoration - the evangelist’s symbols m the upper stake and the transverse arms, the Pantocrator in the center, in the crossing point, inside a quadrangular frame, and the Virgem in the lower stake. Dating from the 13th century, the cross stands on an architectural entanglement that is castellated in two fenestrated registers with counterforted angles and topped by a six-sided roof, dating from the 16th century. The two pieces of the processional cross proceed from the parish of Leomil, in the Lamego municipality.
The GILDED SILVER CHALICE from de Monastery of Chagas, dating between 1600-1615, probably came from Coimbra. It has been attributed to Simão Ferreira, a goldsmith who also made another chalice belonging to the university, and with which it shares the same design and decorative grammar - the cup’s tintinnabula, the cherub and cabochons decoration, the alettes and ovals of the um-shaped knot, etc.. The coming of this piece to Lamego is perhaps due to D. Martim Afonso de Melo (1601-1613), the future bishop of Coimbra, or to D. Martim Afonso Mexia who occupied the mitre of Lamego a little later, in 1615, but whose early enduring relationship with the University is well known. The two typical esthetic mainstreams of Portuguese gold craftsmanship in the 17th century, are very well represented either in the two HIGH-STAND SALVERS exuberantly decorated with mythological scenes, according to the turgid spirit of the baroque style, or in the Quod-Ore vase, whose merit lays on its design alone, as it isn’t carrying any ornament at all.
There is yet, in total harmony with these two, the exceptional set for liturgical use, near from the Monastery of Chagas and made by the prestigious Lisbon-born goldsmith, Tomás Correia. Most likely ordered by D. Luís de Sousa, bishop of Lamego, between 1671 and 1675, it includes gilded silver pieces whose smooth undecorated lines, only display ornamental salient friezes with lumps or long leaves, in the spin of simplicity that was typical in our country, during the reign of D. Pedro II - set of candlesticks with their respective crucifix, to decorate the altar, a LITTLE KETTLE for holy water and its respective ASPERGILLUM; four obelisk shaped incense burners used to burn aromatic fluids, a purificator with its respective little tray where the priest washes his fingers; a THURIBLE , where the incense was burnt, and the INCENSE BOAT WITH A SPOON, a boat-shaped little vase for that same incense - and some pieces, both in silver and in gilded silver, with clearly baroque decoration, such as the tree “sacras” (rectangular boards with written sacred texts to be read at the altar) one of which with the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel.
Dating from the eighteenth century, there are a great number of excellent salvers, the pyx, the pair of chiselled silver lamps or the two sets of salver and “gomil”, (narrow-mouthed jug with handle), one of them in gilded silver, with Lisbon puncture (1720-1750) by the goldsmith A. M., the other one in silver, with Oporto puncture from the assayer João Coelho Sampaio (1768-1784) and made by the goldsmith G. S., intended to the oblations in religious or civilian banquets.
We can’t help mentioning too, the skirt-candlestick attributed to José António Vieira, from Lisbon, or the NEO-CLASSICAL TEA-SET with the bishop José de Jesus Maria Pinto’s monogram both proceeding from the Monastery of Chagas.
The most recent nucleus is composed exclusively by civilian specimens from which we detach the toothpick holders, from Oporto, and dating from the second half of the 19th century, the vases from the second quarter of the 20th century that invoke the production of the region’s wine, with the seal of the Reis jewellery from Oporto, made by the goldsmith José Meireles and a little nucleus proceeding from China.
Maria Antónia Athayde Amaral