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Photograph: Casa do Corpo Santo, Câmara Municipal de Setúbal
© Câmara Municipal de Setúbal


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Name of Monument:
House of the Holy Body (Museum of Baroque)
Also known as:
Casa do Corpo Santo
Location:
Setúbal, Portugal
Date:
1714 (first palace from XVII century)
Denomination / Type of monument:
Palatial architecture (with Chapel)
Artists:
Architect unknown. Tiles signed by “P.M.P.” probably the signature of the Tile-Painting Master Padre Manuel Pereira (Father Manuel Pereira) whose dates are unknown.
Patron(s):
Setúbal’s Brotherhood of Fishermen, Navigators and Ship Owners was born in the 14th century; its Book of Pledges dates to 1340. The Confraria do Corpo Santo (Brotherhood of the Holy Body) is another name for St. Elmo, or St. Pedro Gonçalves, the patron saint of the shipwrecked, and the protector of sailors. The house has two paintings depicting St. Elmo, one of which is oil on canvas and the other oil on copper.
History:
The palace of the Cabedo Family dates to the 17th/18th centuries. It was built on the site of an existing palace erected during the 16th century, as recent archaeological excavations have revealed. The Cabedo family offered part of the palace built in the 17th century, known as Casa do Corpo Santo, to the Confraria do Corpo Santo as accommodation. When the Brotherhood was disbanded in the 19th century this building continued to accommodate nautical organisations. In the second half of 19th century it was linked to the Setúbal Franciscan Fishermen's Society and the House of the Holy Body Maritime Corporation Fund.

The House of the Holy Body belongs to the City Hall and hosts a Museum.
Description:
The 17th/18th-century palace, of which Casa do Corpo Santo is part, is a fine example of Portuguese civil architecture.
Casa do Corpo Santo has a patio – a space mediating between the outdoors and the indoors – with stairs to the first floor. The walls are covered with cobalt-blue azulejos, which continue up the staircase to the first floor. On the stairs a tile-painted welcoming figure features.
There are two rooms decorated with cobalt-blue azulejos representing hunting scenes, aristocratic leisure scenes and examples of labour, inspired by European engravings.
Both rooms have painted ceilings. In the larger, first room, the tempera painted wooden ceiling depicts a Portuguese Vessel (Nau) at its centre, a potent symbol of the activities of the Brotherhood. The second room is a chapel, within the first room. It too has a painted wooden ceiling depicting scenes from the Life of Saint Elmo. It has gold-leaf carvings that create the impression of a Portuguese Baroque church interior in miniature.
How monument was dated:
At the entrance to the monument the date, 1714, is recorded. The original 16th-century palace was dated by archaeological excavations.

 

View Details

 
 
Patio with stairs to the first floor

Entrance to the building, House of the Holy Body (Museum of Baroque)

1700–1714

Architect unknown. Tile-Painting Master P.M.P., probably Padre Manuel Pereira [n.d.]

The patio, with stairs to the first floor, creates a refined entrance space decorated with figurative azulejos: a welcoming figure stands at the top of the staircase, which throughout its course is decorated with designs of architectural balusters, putti and vases of flowers.
 
 
Welcoming figure

Entrance patio at the top of the staircase

1700–1714

Architect unknown. Tile-Painting Master P.M.P., probably Padre Manuel Pereira [n.d.]

Glazed cobalt-blue on white azulejos of a welcoming figure. The character wears typical early 18th-century livery, is unarmed, and adopts a reverential attitude, his hat in hand. It is likely that the figure represents a doorkeeper in the service of the Brotherhood.
 
 
Hunting scene

Interior

1700–1714

Tile-Painting Master P.M.P., probably Padre Manuel Pereira [n.d.]

Azulejos representing an early 18th-century gallant deer-hunting scene with an elegant lady and gentleman riding what seem to be Lusitano horses. This panel is one of a set of gallant hunting scenes that decorate the entrance room on the first floor. Note that the frame, with typical Baroque architectural and decorative elements, is a tapestry.
 
 
Tile-Painting Masters’ signature, P.M.P

Interior

1700–1714

Tile-Painting Master P.M.P., probably Padre Manuel Pereira [n.d.]

The signature P.M.P is probably that of Padre Manuel Pereira, who was a clergyman, amateur architect (in the 18th century he designed the palace of the Tristão da Cunha family) and azulejos painter. Padre Manuel Pereira was patron of a large workshop in Lisbon. He had several disciples that produced azulejos for palaces and churches all over Portugal and Brazil.
 
 
Painted ceiling and Small Chapel

Interior rooms, House of the Holy Body (Museum of Baroque)

1714–1720

Unknown artist

In the first room is a painted wooden ceiling decorated with floral motifs. In the centre, a Portuguese Vessel (Nau) invokes St. Elmo, the patron saint of the Brotherhood.
The second tempera painted ceiling is in the chapel. The Chapel is completely covered with gold-leaf carving in the “National” style, enhancing the shrines embedded in the walls, and exemplifying space management during the Baroque period. The ceiling depicts scenes from the Life of Saint Elmo.

  Selected bibliography:
Smith, R., "French models for Portuguese Tiles", Apollo, 134, 1973, pp. 396-407.
Simões, J., Azulejaria em Portugal no século XVIII, Lisbon, 1979.
Arruda, L.,”Figuras de Convite”, Azulejaria Barroca Portuguesa, Lisbon, 1993.
Neto, J. L., et al., “O Pátio da Casa do Corpo Santo, Da Intervenção Arqueológica à Museológica”, Subsidios para o Estudo da História Local, Vol. I., CMS, 2001.
Cândido, M. J., Neto, J. L., Relatório da Intervenção Arqueológica na Casa do Corpo Santo, Setúbal, 2009.
Citation of this web page:
Luisa  Arruda, Fernando António Baptista Pereira, Maria João Cândido  "House of the Holy Body (Museum of Baroque)" in Discover Baroque Art. Place: Museum With No Frontiers, 2014. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;pt;Mon11;29;en
Prepared by: Luisa Arruda, Fernando António Baptista Pereira, Maria João Cândido
Translation by: Luisa Arruda, Maria João Cândido
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
Copyright images: Casa do Corpo Santo, Câmara Municipal de Setúbal.
MWNF Working Number: PT 29