I cannot resist taking photographs when we visit the palace in Estoi, and last week was no exception. On our latest trip across for morning coffee I decide to focus on the tiles. They are a wonderful example of Portuguese azulejos from the late 19th century.
From what I can ascertain two Lisbon ceramic factories were involved in their production. The first was Fábrica Constância às Janelas Verdes. This factory was established in 1836, and produced tiles that decorate many of the buildings in Lisbon and also the incredible Pena Palace in Sintra. Must go there one day! As well as tiles the factory produced earthenware and stoneware. Unfortunately the company no longer exists. The second factory was Viúva Lamego, and they are still thriving. Established in 1849 they began with simple items in red clay; as fashions changed so did Viúva Lamego and soon they were working with artists to create wonderful hand-painted tiles. Today Viúva Lamego are based in Aveiro but continue the old traditions as well as using modern techniques and creating modern works of tile art. The photographs I have seen of original factory building in Lisbon are amazing, and is a building I hope to photograph when we are there this weekend. I’m also hoping we will have time to visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, that’s if I am not too distracted from taking photographs of Lisbon’s many azulejo-clad buildings and metro stations! For now though let us return to the impressive Azulejos of Estoi.
So far I’ve identified four of the artists involved with the garden art, the paintings in tea houses, the grotto and the mosaics – namely Antonio da Silva Meira, Francisco Luis Alves, an Algarvian artist/sculptor José Pedro da Cruz Leiria and a Genoese Marches Andrea. I am sure though there were more as some of the statues are from Italy, and I’ve yet to find any mention of the landscape gardener. Although given the current state of the lower gardens he or she would probably say that is a good thing!
Whilst the gardens are likely to be a disappointment for keen gardeners every thing else is wonderful, including the views from this impressive 19th century country house. The main rooms are also open to the public and have been restored to their original condition, so if you haven’t yet been do go or even better stay the night as it is now one of the Pousadas de Portugal.
For more photographs and a brief history of the palace pop along to my earlier post, and for those after more in-depth information on the creation of palácio de Estoi you might enjoy the following;
- Slide show (in Portuguese) of the history of the palace including historic photographs
- History of the palace by the Cultural Department – much of which is taken from or contributed to the previous slideshow. It includes a bibliography should you wish to undertake more research.