Art Treatises in Portugal




Code . PTDC/EAT-EAT/100496/2008

Start . 2008

Duration . 48 months

Principal Investigator . Rafael Moreira (CHAM)


Funding Entity

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia


Main Research Unit

CHAM - Centro de Humanidades


Coordenator Institution

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa


Faculdade de Belas-Artes / Universidade de Lisboa
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia / Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Faculdade de Letras / Universidade de Lisboa



«Art Treatises in Portugal» is a research project headquartered in CHAM, an institutional collaboration among the three main faculties in Lisbon in the field of History of Art - the FCSH/NOVA, the Faculty of Letters and the Faculty of Fine Arts -, and created to develop and consolidate instruments and qualifications on an axial academic subject, considered since 1980 of the utmost international importance.

Aside from the intellectual thought and texts by Francisco de Holanda, the treatises of Art in Portugal have been sparsely and individually studied. It is an established omission in the historiography of Portuguese Art. Some Portuguese treatises were studied in monographs. Two fundamental manuscripts on Architecture (1576-1579) were discovered and studied by Rafael Moreira; another one on Sculpture about the equestrian statue of Machado de Castro, edited by França; and also the library of this sculptor was studied by Ana Duarte Rodrigues. A treatise of Cirillo was published. However, it was not a treatise, but a collection of personal notes, as proved by Luísa Arruda. Rafael Moreira disclosed a very important and groundbreaking treatise of urbanism, entitled “Treatise on Ruação" (a neologism of “rua” [street]) by the architect from Porto, José de Figueiredo Seixas (1763). A reasonable number of manuscripts and printed music treatises are known, but without any in-depth study about them. There are only a few exceptions, such as Mateus de Aranda (1533) and King João IV (1656) recently studied by Ferreira. Recently, a Calligraphy treatise was discovered by Serrão, also currently under study.

Almost all researchers who have studied and written about treatises in Portugal collaborate on this project. The team is made up of ten PhDs and a research scholarship holder. Thus, we have experts in all artistic fields: Rafael Moreira and José Fernandes Pereira are acknowledged experts in a wide variety of topics related to treatises and artistic literature; University professors, as Victor Serrão, Luísa Arruda, Manuel Pedro Ferreira and Justino Maciel are, in their fields of study, internationally accredited. Ana Duarte Rodrigues dedicates her research to treatises on gardens. Manuel Pedro Ferreira, Bernadette Nelson and João Pedro Alvarenga, are responsible for the studies of musicology, an important part of this project. Justino Maciel, an Ancient Art expert, is the author of the first direct translation from Latin to Portuguese of Vitruvius, and a key member to analyse the impact of ancient texts in the Early Modern Age. Luís Urbano Alfonso will have the same role for medieval texts. Ana Duarte Rodrigues, who studied illustrated books and treatises on Iconography at the Warburg Institute, will liaise with our consultants, Charles Hope and Elizabeth McGrath of the Warburg Institute, University of London, our main source for methodological issues.




The general studies about Portuguese treatises are scarce and brief, limited to some dictionaries entries, lacking a theoretical approach and systematic research group. This project aims to promote a new way to approach the study of treatises, collecting all records of preserved treatises in Portuguese libraries and archives into a database, and organising documents in order to assist future studies. We want a solid base to answer some important questions, such as:

• What was the level of artistic erudition in each historical period?

• What were the most used titles and editions in Portugal during the Early Modern Age?

• How should we classify Portugal regarding the international flow of artistic information?

• What was the prevalent artistic culture, and its connection with the various fields considered in this project?

These questions are fundamental to a true understanding of the cultural milieu, the level of internationalisation of artistic culture at any given moment and region, its main guidelines, sources and favourite themes.

As a pioneering research project, we intend to create a database, in constant expansion for the historians of tomorrow, encouraging the interaction between researchers and preventing duplication of effort. In addition to this key objective, we also intend to make the Portuguese treatises available online, to further develop the work in our archives and to involve students and young researchers in this field of study.







Rafael Moreira    .    Coordenator

Ana Duarte Rodrigues (CHAM)
Ana Glória (IHA / NOVA FCSH)
Bernadette Nelson (CESEM / NOVA FCSH)
Charles Hope (The Warburg Institute)
Elizabeth McGrath (The Warburg Institute)
Inês Felício (IHA / NOVA FCSH)
João Pedro Alvarenga (CESEM / NOVA FCSH)
José Fernandes Pereira (FBA / UL)
Justino Maciel (IHA / NOVA FCSH)
Luís Urbano Afonso (FLUL)
Luísa Arruda (FBA / UL)
Manuel Pedro Ferreira (CESEM / NOVA FCSH)
Nuno Correia (FCT / NOVA)
Pedro Albuquerque Santos (ESTS / IPS)
Rui Neves Madeira (ESTS / IPS)
Vítor Serrão (ARTIS / FLUL)
Zulmira Ceita (ESTS / IPS)