The Pombal Palace, located in the street O Século, is a sixteenth century building in plain architecture, that was built by Sebastião de Carvalho e Melo, grandfather of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, future Marquis of Pombal. The palace was the favourite residence of the Pombal family until the earthquake of 1755, after which they moved to Ajuda. The following years were of renovation and aggrandizement of the Palace, which coincided with the political rise of the Marquis.
The current building is municipality property since 1968 and was part of a bigger palatial set, which was divided and distributed to different entities over the years. The noble part of the palace remains intact, although, and the entrance is done in the number 79 of the street O Século, where Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa is presently located. The Palace preserves its sixteenth century exterior and physiognomy, although the interior has been profoundly renovated in a rococo manner.
The main façade follows the route of the street and is constituted by ground-floor, noble floor and 2nd floor. In front of the palace, but separated from the street O Século, there is a roundabout where the carriages maneuvered before entering the palace and the huge fountain by Carlos Mardel.
In the northern part of the palace there are two gates that opened to a courtyard where the wagons circulated and which communicated with the noble staircase. Above the balcony window there are the arms of Carvalho e Melo (eight-pointed stars).
Architecture and décor
At the entrance of the Palace at number 79, where Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa is located, there are six framed tile paintings, four of them representing figurative scenes within architectural moldings.
The noble staircase in two levels, providing access to the main floor, was magnified during the renovations made by the Marquis around 1770, as a way of staging the power he had then as a minister. In them we can find four marble sculptures: a Venus in natural size, in the lower level; a Hercules in natural size, wielding the mace wrapped in lion's skin, in the upper level and facing Venus; two similar sculptural groups, representing the weapons of Carvalho e Melo. Given the time and features, these sculptures are presumably authored by the School of Mafra.
The ceiling of this staircase, created by Milanese master João Grossi, has stucco decoration representing "Love and Death". In the upper level, above the door which gives access to the main floor rooms, there are the ornate weapons of the Marquis. The rooms of the main floor, also magnified by João Grossi, stand out for their different decorations: the blue hall with its polychromatic tiles of the 3rd quarter of the eighteenth century (possibly of the Rato Factory), with patterns of a military and heraldic character; the chapel / oratory, in a small room lit by a skylight with its walls with stucco decorations, especially the medallions with religious scenes; the game room, with its yellow, aubergine, green and blue tiles, typical of the 3rd quarter of seven hundreds, representing country and sea scenes, separated by flower pots and the stucco ceiling representing Fame followed by angels; the ball room with its roof with stucco decoration in shades of ocher, blue and white and the red hall with burgundy on white stucco decoration.
The Garden, now smaller, has a wall with carved benches and coated with ashlars of white and blue tile, from the third quarter of the eighteenth century (presumably from the Rato Factory) representing scenes of customs, within shell frames. On the north side, the wall is interrupted by an ornamental fountain that consists of a mermaid riding a dolphin and a fountain, framed in a neoclassical niche and, on the south side, opposite to the fountain, by a framed window. In the center of the garden there is a pond with a fountain and two celtis australis trees.
Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa
Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa is a platform for research, experimentation and studies in the field of contemporary art founded in 2009. Presents a multidisciplinary and plural structure to the visual arts, with the intent of providing a network for the exchange of information between artists, theorists, students, producers and audience.
The programming is directed towards the residencies of artists, both national and international, who realize site-specific exhibitions and masterclasses, alongside other parallel activities such as conferences, lectures and guided tours. As a nonprofit organization, Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa also has a network of collaborators in addition to being supported by cultural institutions.
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