Historians have long recognized the singular nautical achievements of sixteenth-century Portugal. The Renaissance age of navigation was characterized by intrepid Portuguese mariners who charted unknown waters in double or triple-masted caravels. Vasco da Gama opened a route around Africa to India in 1497. Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500 basically steered the same course to South Asia, but deviated on his return to set anchor off the coast of Brazil, the “Land of the True Cross.” Fernão Magalhães’s ship “Victoria” managed to circumnavigate the earth between 1519 and 1521. These Portuguese voyagers substantially changed the medieval world picture. Their maritime expeditions collectively are the substance of myths, serving as proleptic portraits, or heroic harbingers, of present day manned missions into outer space.
Portugal’s cultural heritage equally is the material of legend and lore. In the case of courtly portraiture, besides the commemorative tomb effigy and the formal state portrait, the monarch’s image conventionally appears in narrative paintings and tapestries. The chemistry of art and history is quite unique in Portugal, as the veristic royal likeness often blends with epical saga to produce a highly refined allegorical compound. This richly illustrated lecture will address the Lusitanian portrait amalgamation, beginning with the origin of the medieval kingdom of Portugal in 1139 and concluding with the extraordinary Renaissance age of global encounters.
von Barghahn, Barbara
"Blending Myth and Reality: Maritime Portugal and Renaissance Portraits of the Royal Court,"
Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective: Vol. 11
, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/jgi/vol11/iss1/7