Major Figures in History
Francisco Keil do Amaral (1910-1975)
This architect, born in Lisbon, left ineffaceable marks on the city. Among his projects are the Monsanto Park, the Campo Grande Park and the Eduard VII Park, three of the city’s emblematic green spaces. Graduated from the Lisbon College of Fine Arts, he won the tender for the Portuguese Pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition in 1937 with a project that meant a break with the historicist patterns of the official taste of those days. As Alexandre Pomar, the art critic, said, “his works are a proof of his interest for a ‘forward and modern architecture that maintains an adequate amount of tradition’, and they are not a yielding process but rather the affirmation of an enlightened position that questions the polarity between traditional roots and the internationalism of architecture”. He also designed the Lisbon Airport building, (inaugurated in 1943), and the Lisbon International Trade Fair Pavilion (1956), currently the Lisbon Congress Centre which is portrayed on the stamp.
But his architectural and urban legacy wasn’t limited to activity developed in the capital. The Pasteur Institute, in Porto, built in 1935, the União Eléctrica Portuguesa’s power station in Almada, the schools at the Secil cement plant in Outão, Setúbal, built in 1938-1940, are some of his important accomplishments which he considered as examples of his ”rationalism that lacks hardness and dryness”.
Placed in the modernist current of the mid 19th century, he played an important role not only as an architect but also as a critic who intervened in the problems and responsibilities of his profession. He also stood out as a disseminator, having published countless articles, in particular in the magazine Arquitectura (1947-1948), monographs, and he launched the basis for the Survey on Portuguese Regional Architecture (Inquérito à Arquitectura Regional Portuguesa), initiated in 1955. He also published several works: Architecture and Life (A Arquitectura e a Vida), 1942, Modern Dutch Architecture (A Moderna Arquitectura Holandesa), 1943 and Problems related to Housing (O Problema da Habitação), 1945. He is sometimes denoted as the most important architect in Lisbon of the 40’s and 50’s. Alexandre Herculano (1810-1877)
As a historian, Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho Araújo introduced a new notion of History based more on the study of the institutions rather than of the individuals. He was the first theoriser and usher of Romantism in Portugal and the initiator of Portuguese historic novels with the publication of The Fool (O Bobo), in 1843, Eurico the Priest (Eurico, o Presbítero), the following year, and The Cistercian Monk (O Monge de Cister), in 1848. His work of reference, however is the History of Portugal (História de Portugal), published between 1846-1853, of which only four volumes were published and which was the starting point of a historical research, from the origins of monarchy to King Dom Afonso III. Because of his controversial and doctrinal work he is also considered the most legitimate representative of the juridical, economical and social theory of Liberalism. Further to being a poet, he reformed Portuguese theatre together with Almeida Garrett.
Born in Lisbon, Herculano showed a vocation for letters at a very young age: he translated foreign romantic authors like Schiller and Chateaubriand, wrote poetry, he got to know the writer António Feliciano de Castilho and frequented the house of the marquise of Alorna. At the age of 21 he got involved in a conspiracy against the absolute regime of King Miguel and was forced to seek exile, first in England and later in France. He returned to Portugal as a soldier in King Dom Pedro IV’s expedition, having fought and taken part in military actions in the war against the absolutists. He organised the public library in Porto with funds withdrawn from the monastic and Miguelist libraries. In 1837, after returning to Lisbon, he directed the illustrated weekly encyclopaedic magazine, O Panorama, addressed to a wider public. Herculano was in fact one of the most popular and renown men of his time. He was also library director at the Necessidades Palace and at the Ajuda Palace.
A major mentor of the political-military movement of April-May 1851, known as the Regeneration, he fell out with the government that arose from this movement and developed an intense controversy with the established power. At the end of the 60’s, owing to some degree to his vocation and strongly to his disappointment with government practices, he retired to his estate in Vale de Lobos, Santarém, where he led a very rustic life, dressed as a farmer and absorbed in agricultural matters, refusing all the honorific distinctions that were offered to him.
Fernão Mendes Pinto (1510-1583)
Traveller, adventurer and writer, he is the author of The Travels of Mendes Pinto (Peregrinação) one of the most interesting travel books in world literature. He was born in Montemor-o-Velho and taken to Lisbon at an early age. Here he served in the house of Duque George, the son of King João II, until he decided to seek his fortune abroad and embarked for India in 1537. He spent twenty years in the Orient, roaming the seas and shores from Arabia to Japan. He led a remarkable and dramatically agitated life, “having been made a prisoner thirteen times and sold into slavery seventeen times”, as he wrote himself.
He was one of the first Europeans to reach Japan where he got to know St. Francis Xavier. Impressed by the character of this famous missionary he decided, shortly after the latter’s death (1552) and at a time when he was at the peak of his wealth, to join the Society of Jesus and promote a mission to Japan in which he took part. For unknown reasons he later left the order, to which he left most of his wealth.
Having returned to Portugal in 1558, he settled in Almada, got a pension from King Filipe II and wrote from memory an account of his travels, which was not published until 1614, more than 20 years after his death. His book was shortly after translated into Spanish, French, Dutch, German and other languages. The heterogeneity of the narrative in no way lessens its representative power and the lasting interest it has maintained until present times.
Gomes Eanes de Azurara (1410-1474)
Chief keeper of the Portuguese national archive, Torre do Tombo, he is the author of the Chronicle of the Capture of Ceuta (Crónica da Tomada de Ceuta), 1451 and Chronicle of the Feats of Guinea (Crónica dos Feitos da Guiné), 1453, as well as of the Book of the Feats of Prince Henry (Livro dos Feitos do Infante Dom Henrique), of the Chronicle of Pedro de Meneses (Crónica de Dom Pedro de Meneses) and of the Chronicle of Dom Duarte de Meneses (Crónica de Dom Duarte de Meneses. Zurara’s (as his name is also spelled) work is for the most part an eulogy of important characters of the nobility and is aimed at extolling the military success of the warring aristocracy. The dynamism of society, the sentiments and actions of the “rabble” are rarely mentioned in his texts that focus more on extending the notion of chivalry, which virtues he matches up to the role of the writer who perpetuates the heroic feats of the warriors.
Of his four known chronicles, the most interesting one is the first, the Chronicle of the Capture of Ceuta, in which we can witness the discussions between the biographised characters and the description of the work of the artisans and tradesmen who supplied the ships and gather provisions on the banks of the Tagus River.
The recourse to the scholarly rhetoric through the constant quoting of Greek and Latin authors and the confrontation between coeval history and the characters and events of ancient times make (A)Zurara a forerunner of the Renaissance.
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 22.04.2010
Illustrator: Luis Filipe de Abreu
Size: 40 x 30,6 mm
Values: ?1,28, ?2,09