Tapeçarias de Portalegre
With over three thousand works of art spawning from their looms, some of them signed by the greatest figures in Portuguese contemporary art, the Tapeçarias de Portalegre (Portalegre Tapestry Manufacture) counts among their artists names like Almada Negreiros, Vieira da Silva, Le Corbusier, Bruno Munari, Burle Max and, more recently, Joana Vasconcelos, whose Vitral tapestry – a 13 sq. metre work of art – greeted visitors to the Palace of Versailles until September 2015.
With a long tradition in textiles, Portugal has had many of its great deeds as a nation depicted in tapestries, however, these were almost always commissioned from France or Belgium. In fact, as far as tapestry manufacture goes, there was no tradition in tapestry production until the 18th century; when the Marquis of Pombal, after the 1755 earthquake, set up two tapestry factories in Lisbon and in the Algarve.
Neither factory survived beyond his death, and it was only some two centuries later that two friends – Guy Fino and Manuel Celestino Peixeiro – decided to produce hand-knotted carpets in Portalegre, and eventually evolved into producing hand woven tapestries.
The seal of approval came in 1952 from Jean Lurçat (the godfather of French tapestry), when Guy Fino had a copy of one of Lurçat’s tapestries made at the Portalegre Manufacture. When asked which one was his, Lurçat chose the one made in Portalegre. He considered them to be the best in the world and from 1958 until his death, had most of his tapestries made in Portalegre.
Some of Portugal’s best artists soon followed, as is the case of Almada Negreiros – perhaps one of the country’s finest contempoarary artists – who commissioned many a tapestry from the Portalegre Manufacture. At Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, visitors can find three of the best examples of Portalegre tapestries ever made, in the form of the Centaurs tapestries, displayed in the Almada Negreiros Lounge. Also at the Hotel, you can see the Bataille des Couteaux by Vieira da Silva at the mezzanine level, as well as the magnificent Night and Day tapestries by Pedro Leitão in the Hotel’s ballroom.
To find out more about the Hotel’s art collection, download the iPad app here: bit.ly/FSArtApp.