Accepted Paper:

Old Goa's treasures still hide behind the layers of time…and layers of paint: the Vice-Roys and Governors portrait gallery  


Ana Teresa Teves Reis (Faculty of Fine-Arts, University of Lisbon)
Antonio Candeias (University of Evora)

Paper short abstract:

This portrait gallery’s purpose was to emphasize the Portuguese’s achievements overseas as well as their precedence in ultramarine territories. Their current conservation condition misrepresents what was once an amazing collection and rises misinterpretation issues that need to be urgently addressed

Paper long abstract:

In 1547, Vice-Roy D. João de Castro entered triumphant in Goa after his victory in the second siege of Diu, an event widely described throughout history which justified the commission of a portrait for the main Acts Room at Sabaio Palace.

He also decided to dignify the memory of the former rulers which preceded him and asked the chronicler Gaspar Correia to point out to a local painter their physiognomic characteristics. The ruler's portrait became a tradition until the last General Governor.

This gallery created an imposing and reverent background to all diplomatic events. Chroniclers and voyagers testified its grandeur and decay, parallel to Old Goa's fate. In fact, we believe it was the partial abandon of this collection in the Fortaleza Palace trough 125 years (from 1695 until 1820) which led to the degradation of the paintings and justified a major, but poor, 'renovation' intervention, in 1840 before transferring to Nova Goa. Later, Captain Gomes da Costa also tried to dignify their figure, thus adding a new layer.

Coeval documentation gives information regarding the artistic quality of these paintings, as well as their iconographic and documental value to ultramarine history and art history. Ongoing investigations reveal that some of the early portraits are missing and were replaced by later portraits and that others are hidden behind layers from the 1840's renovation.

Such as in Old Goa, a thorough stratigraphic survey is required to trace the hidden place of these 'treasures', towards the scientific 'excavation' of this unique heritage.

Panel P26
Old Goa: the city/port as a place of encounter and cross-cultural exchanges, shaping identities, urban spaces and built-up heritage