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Famous artwork turns up in a Madrid gallery

Atualizado: 28 de mar.

Portugal could lose a sacred painting of "exceptional value"


© Domingos Sequeira’s “Descent from the Cross”

Domingos Sequeira's "Descent from the Cross", an emblematic work by one of the most important Portuguese painters of the 19th century, is on sale in a Madrid gallery for €1.2 million. The work left the country due to a “mistake” from Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC), which the Government has already recognised.


On November 6, 2023, the DGPC received a request for the "temporary export for possible sale" of the 1827 artwork. The painting is owned by Alexandre de Souza e Holstein, a descendant of the Duke of Palmela, who bought the set of paintings from the artist's daughter. The artwork is on sale at Madrid’s Colnaghi Gallery.


The export was all the more unusual because it went ahead despite a negative written assessment by Joaquim Caetano, director of the National Museum of Ancient Art (MNAA). In it, he defended the need to "immediately start the process of classifying the painting as a Property of National Interest, preventing it from leaving Portuguese territory".


For unclear reasons, the classification did not go ahead and the painting even left the country, prompting an open letter to the government from 12 Portuguese art historians, museologists and archaeologists, who expressed their "indignation" at this "seriously damaging to Portuguese heritage".


In 2015, national mobilisation enabled the MNAA to acquire the work "Adoration of the Magi", which is part of this set of paintings by Domingos Sequeira, for around €600,000.

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