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Tecto da egreja dos Martyres de Lxª [Ceiling of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs]

LUSITANO, Vieira (1699-1783)




The Church of Our Lady of the Martyrs was constructed at the behest of King Afonso Henriques (c.1109–1185) in the western part of the city, beside one of the spots used as a cemetery for the crusaders who died in the Siege of Lisbon (1147), and in thanksgiving for their victory.

Following the fire that completely destroyed the building in 1746, King João V ordered that the church be rebuilt. Francisco Vieira de Matos, more commonly known as Vieira Lusitano, was commissioned to paint the ceiling decoration.

This drawing, which was for the central medallion, shows King Afonso Henriques and the English crusader William Longsword kneeling, wearing laurel wreaths. The sovereign is handing an angel a casket containing the relics of the martyrs and the first stone of the church. At the top, the Virgin Mary sits surrounded by a court of martyrs (doubtless those who fell during the siege in 1147), with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at the very apex.

The work was finished in 1750, the year of the monarch’s death, but was destroyed in the 1755 Earthquake.

The church, which was originally located near the Convent of São Francisco, was rebuilt at another site (on the present-day Rua (street) Garrett), with the ceiling, by Pedro Alexandrino, an approximate copy of the one painted by Vieira Lusitano.

This drawing was part of the Vieira Lusitano exhibition. From 3 drawings, which were on display at the Lisbon Museum - Palácio Pimenta, between October 22, 2019 and February 23, 2020.

5 Teto da egreja dos Martyres de Lxª Museu de Lisboa.jpg

© Museu de Lisboa