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Domingos Sequeira's masterpiece is coming back to Portugal

Atualizado: 22 de abr.

The painting Descida da Cruz by Domingos Sequeira has been bought by a "national private organisation" and will be exhibited in a museum in Portugal.

Descent from the Cross by Domingos Sequeira | WIKICOMMONS

One month after the Ministry of Culture recognized that a "regrettable mistake" had allowed Domingos Sequeira's Descent from the Cross (1827) to be sold on the international market, it has announced that the painting has been bought by a "national private organisation" and will be exhibited in a museum in Portugal.

It is not yet known who the new owner is, how much the painting was bought for or in which museum it will be exhibited to the public.

The purchase took place on March 10 in Maaastrich, the Netherlands, where it was for sale at the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) art fair in Maastricht, widely regarded as the world’s premier fair for fine art, antiques, and design.

An initial attempt to buy the painting had failed to convince its current owner, Alexandre de Sousa Holstein.

According to the Jorge Coll, the executive director of Colnaghi, the international gallery that is currently selling the masterpiece, the offer was "too low" and doesn't meet the owner's wish to "internationalize portuguese art."

Last month, an angry row broke out after it emerged that the Ministry of Culture had allowed the masterpiece to leave Portugal. It is now

Administrative law experts cited by EXPRESSO pointed out that the process that alllowed the painting to leave Portugal is marred by various irregularities. The Ministry of Culture admitted that a "regrettable mistake on the part of its services" had allowed Domingos Sequeira's masterpiece, from 1827, to leave the country to be sold on the international market.

The Portuguese-French gallerist Philippe Mendes, whose gallery will also be represented at the fair in the Netherlands, told PÚBLICO that he is trying to persuade the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Met) to acquire the Portuguese painting.

"The only way to save us from the scandal of a painting as important as this appearing for sale in Maastricht, and being able to be bought by anyone, would be for the work to go to a major international institution, and I'd like that to be the Met," says the gallerist.

Another possible candidate would be the Louvre, where the gallerist has already worked but the Paris museum is said to have signalled that it wasn't willing to pay the sums that might be on the table.

Descent from the Cross is part of the emblematic series of four paintings that Domingos Sequeira, who has sometimes been described as the Portuguese Goya, executed in the last years of his life in Rome, where he died in 1837.

Estimated to have been created in 1827, the religious composition depicts the site of Christ's Calvary after the body was taken down from the cross. The series also includes "Ascension", "Last Judgement" and "Adoration of the Magi" - the latter is the only one already in the possession of the National Museum of Ancient Art, bought for 600,000 euros in a public crowdfunding campaign in 2016.

The quartet by the forerunner of the Romantic movement in Portuguese art "has exceptional value", historian Vítor Serrão told JN, "and the State has every interest in reuniting the four works".

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