Photograph: Hélio Ramos,  © Câmara Municipal de LouléPhotograph: Hélio Ramos,  © Câmara Municipal de Loulé


Name of Monument:

Church of St. Lourenço de Almancil

Location:

Parish of Almancil, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

Contact DetailsChurch of St. Lourenço de Almancil
Igreja de St. Lourenço
S. Lourenço
8135-027 Almancil
T : +351 289 395 451
Parish of Almancil  (Responsible Institution)

Date:

1730

Artists:

Architect unknown; tile painter: Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (? 1695–1778); tile sales agents in Lisbon: António Borges, Manuel Borges; wood carver: Manuel Martins, whose dates are unknown.

Denomination / Type of monument:

Religious, pilgrimage church

Patron(s):

Reverend Doctor Manuel de Sousa Teixeira

History:

In the 18th century, the Algarve Bishops felt it necessary to increase the religious faith of the locals of Almancil. When water was discovered near a pilgrimage chapel dedicated to St. Laurence, it was seen as a miracle and a sign to rebuild the chapel. The patron of the church was the General Vicar of the Algarve Bishopric District, who also had responsibility for the Brotherhood of St. Lourenço dos Matos, his name and date (1730) are inscribed on the cupola tiles.

Description:

The Pilgrimage Church of St. Lourenço de Almancil is built on pure geometric volumes. Its sober façades with simple, shaped openings are bordered with local limestone. The roof is covered with clay tiles. The exterior, like the cupola, is painted white, influenced by Arab models. There are some cobalt-blue azulejos on the exterior walls. The baroque design of the churchyard and doorway are surprisingly elaborate.
Inside, the gilt, carved wood altar structure of the retable, with its characteristic Solomon temple columns, was built by Manuel Martins, who also carved the arch of the sacristy. Cobalt-blue tiles cover the interior walls, ceiling and cupola, submerging the visitor immediately in their ambiance on entering the church.
It is probable that Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes of Lisbon signed the tile panels, indicating his pride in this unique work. Bernardes belonged to a family of painters that specialised in perspective paintings on walls and ceilings. Rather than fresco, tile painting techniques are used here, the designs taken from Andrea Pozzo's book of perspective designs. The architectural trompe l'œil was intended to create a fantastic spectacle of Italianate buildings and landscapes which allowed the viewer to forget the earthly space they were in.
The subject of the tile painting is the Life, Death and Coronation of St. Laurence. Born in Spain, St. Laurence was a martyr in Rome.
Cobalt blue on a white background shows the European taste in Chinese porcelain at the time. It was first traded in Europe by the Portuguese, and influenced the colours of Portuguese Baroque tile work known as azulejos.

View Short Description

The Church of St. Lourenço (Laurence) of Almancil is an example of Portuguese vernacular architecture. Inside, the walls, ceiling and cupola are covered with cobalt-blue painted and glazed tiles. The walls are adorned with azulejos depicting the story of the Life and Death of St. Laurence. The ceiling and cupola are decorated with azulejos with Italianate architectural themes in perspective. The carved, gilt- wood high altar retable, in the shape of a pyramidal throne, has massive columns decorated with putti, angels, foliage and birds.

How Monument was dated:

Historical evidence

Special features

Churchyard and doorway

Exterior

1730

Architect unknown

The churchyard and stone doorway follow a precise architectural design, which is significant in the architectural context of this Church. By using an elegant Baroque design, the anonymous architect added a special status to a vernacular building.

St. Laurence

Interior

14th century (?)

Unknown local workshop

Stone medallion from the medieval period that ornaments the outside sacristy door and is a vestige from the old chapel.

The martyrdom of St. Laurence

Interior

1730

Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (?1695–1778)

Cobalt-blue on white painted and glazed tiles, azulejos. The Italianate Baroque style of the painting is due to the interpretation of Italian prints by the artist.

The Glory of St. Laurence

Interior

1730

Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes (?1695–1778)

Cobalt-blue on white azulejos decorate the vault. The quadratura setting shows an architectural perspective, di sotto in sù (“above from below”) at the centre of which is the image of St. Laurence being carried by angels to Heaven.

Carved Wood and Gilded Retable (High Altar)

Interior

1730

Manuel Martins [n.d.]

Surmounted by a cupola covered with tiles, the carved wood and gilded retable or high altar was designed as an architectural structure and, in order to make the most of the available space is concave. The elevation, with Solomon Temple columns and a pyramidal throne, has steps to accommodate the image of St. Laurence. In the arched attic are two archivolts decorated with scrolls and angels. The topmost angel holds a grill, symbol of the saint's martyrdom.

Selected bibliography:

Smith, R., "The Portuguese Wood-Carved Retable 1600–1750", Belas-Artes, No. 2, Lisbon, 1950.
Bazin, G., "Morphologie du Retable Portugais", Belas-Artes, No. 5, 1953.
Simões, J. M., Azulejaria em Portugal no século XVIII, Lisbon, 1979.
Arruda, L., "Almancil, S. Lourenço de", Dicionário da Arte Barroca em Portugal, Lisbon, 1989.
Lameira, F., A talha no Algarve, Faro, 2000.

Additional Copyright Information:

Copyright images: Divisão da Cultura e História Local da Câmara Municipal de Loulé.

Citation of this web page:

Luisa  Arruda "Church of St. Lourenço de Almancil" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;pt;Mon11;9;en

Prepared by: Luisa ArrudaLuisa Arruda

SURNAME: Arruda
NAME: Luisa

AFFILIATION: Faculty of Fine Arts, Lisbon University

TITLE: Associate Professor and Researcher

CV:
Luisa Arruda is an Associate Professor and Researcher at Lisbon University (Faculty of Fine Arts). Both a Painter and an Art Historian, her research and publications focus on Portuguese art, architecture, drawing and decorative arts.

Translation by: Luisa ArrudaLuisa Arruda

SURNAME: Arruda
NAME: Luisa

AFFILIATION: Faculty of Fine Arts, Lisbon University

TITLE: Associate Professor and Researcher

CV:
Luisa Arruda is an Associate Professor and Researcher at Lisbon University (Faculty of Fine Arts). Both a Painter and an Art Historian, her research and publications focus on Portuguese art, architecture, drawing and decorative arts.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PT 09

RELATED CONTENT

 Timeline for this item


On display in


Download

As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)