The name of the chapel of Santo António – also called the antechoir – comes from its dedication to one of the most important Franciscan saints for Portuguese worship, St. Anthony of Lisbon (also called of Padua).
The decoration ordered by King João V is a magnificent example of the Portuguese Baroque, characterised by the combination of blue and white tiles with the gilded and carved wood of the frames and the altar, the painting, and the exotic wood from Brazil used in the flooring and for the doors.
The eight tile panels on the walls show scenes from the life of the most important hermit saints, such as St. Anthony of Egypt and St. Paul, framed by false architectural decorations whose bases have cartouches bearing symbols with a moral message, such as the skull and the hour-glass.
Above the tile panels are images – attributed to André Gonçalves – showing the miracles performed by St. Anthony. Gonçalves may also have painted the works on the ceiling, which depict scenes from the life of the same saint.
Opposite the altar is a monumental door. This protects another of the convent’s wonders: a huge crib in polychrome, gilded clay, the work of António Ferreira. The current exhibition shows the Holy Family from the set.
11 December 2009