Museu de Lamego
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The Virgin Assumption. Masters of Ferreirim, 16th cent.

The valuable 16th century paintings from Ferreirim, spread over the walls of the church and here placed in another context aimed at engendering, in themselves and in the way that they interact with other pieces, a set of viewpoints and problematic relations. The group of eight paintings in two distinct sets, each in two rows, has the intention of challenging, in an initial approach, the way that these "ornamental altar panels" are usually seen. Taken from collective structures, framed and exposed as autonomous works in an essentially ornamental dimension, they provoke a deceptive look Ð the look that results from "retro-projection" of a modern concept of works of art and the artist. These paintings are not autonomous art gallery paintings, nor are they the result of an individual artistic act. Thus the opportunity, in the similarities and differences with other pieces, to challenge concepts. As such, the exhibition set-up aims to bring the viewer nearer to the visual effects that result from grouping these ornamental altar panels and aims to deviate from the exclusively aesthetic dimension to that of the use of the paintings. In other words the two sets offer themselves to the eye whilst figurative supports used for liturgy and worship. The reconstruction of this narrative looks to interact directly with one of the permanent and most marked presence at the Lamego Museum Ð the painting of Grão Vasco. The confrontation between the two exhibited nucleuses has not come about merely from the idea to highlight identical historical-artistic circumstances, but also from the need to consider, because identical, the way in which they are usually contemplated. The paintings from the church of the ancient Ferreirim monastery, in contrast to what the geography of the location might suggest, that seems to allude to a peripheral artistic situation, assumes pivotal importance, that lies essentially in the space that they occupy in any approach towards Portuguese painting of this era. Their importance, not only in the historical and artistic era or context, but also in the appropriation of "historiographical position" originates from a set of singular circumstances. In the first instance, and despite the apparent anonymity that the ambiguous name «Masters of Ferreirim» seems to imply, rare documents with detailed information about their authors and the "rituals" of their conception are known. In parallel, the possibility of confronting the content of these documents, especially the identity and the number of painters involved, with these samples that have miraculously withstood, through reforms and natural cataclysms, the ravages of time. In addition and no less important, the application of information that results from the opportunity that this "crossing" of paintings and documents offers to other nucleuses, not to mention the interpretative challenges that arise from the circumstances of dealing with an artistic work "by three hands". This, because the «Masters of Ferreirim» are no less than three of the most prestigious painters from the Lisbon studios, Cristóvão de Figueiredo, Gregório Lopes and Garcia Fernandes. And hence the move from a name that reports a concrete situation - the authors of the eight paintings in question - to a lasting and implicit working notion, common in the attributive analysis of a large number of 16th century paintings that are related to them. Dalila Rodrigues

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