The eighteenth century was a true golden age for the visual arts in Portugal. The discovery of fabulous deposits of gold, diamonds, and emeralds in Brazil suddenly made Portugal's court the wealthiest in all of Europe, enabling patronage of the arts on a lavish scale. This handsome volume is the first major work in English to be devoted to this period of Portuguese art and history. Written by historians such as Kenneth Maxwell and specialists in art and architectural history such as Hellmut Wohl and Jennifer Montagu, the book tells the story of this unique age--its politics, society, and history. Focusing on the reigns of King Joao V, who ruled from 1706 to 1750, and King Jose I, who ruled from 1750 to 1777, the book reproduces and discusses more than one hundred works of art--including paintings, architecture, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, silver, jewelry, and textiles--that illustrate the extraordinary quality of Portuguese artistic production and patronage.
Jay Levenson is Managing Curator of the Elegance and Enlightenment exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.