Not only there is no museum in Portugal that gathers all the works of Almada Negreiros (1893-1970), as many of his pieces are in private hands, but also part of his work is scattered trough Lisbon. The artist has frequently collaborated in wider architectonic projects like the Cruise Terminal Buildings of Alcântara and Rocha do Conde de Óbidos, the Church of Our Lady of Fátima, the Lisbon's University Campus, among others, contributing for a real, and very rich, artistic itinerary in the city that I will bring to you on a series of articles. The Hotel Ritz (currently Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon) is one of the stops on our Almada Negreiros Lisbon Itinerary.
In 1959, the architect Porfirio Pardal Monteiro is commissioned with the project for a 5 star hotel in the city that will bring Lisbon to the highest international standards of hospitality. Once again, Pardal Monteiro invites his friend Almada Negreiros to make the drawings for three tapestries, and an engraved marble wall, which you can find on the ground floor of the hotel.
Almada Negreiros, inspired by Greek mythology draws a set of 3 tapestries. In the first you can see the encounter of a couple of centaurs. The male, confident and exhibitionist and the female looking over the shoulder with coquetry.
In front of the first tapestry you can find the second one where passion succeeds seduction in brighter and warmer colors, and with a clear sense of movement in the traits of the artist. There, the two centaurs, lying down and intertwined, hold each other heads with the promise of a kiss.
On the opposite side of Almada Negreiros Lounge, you can find the third and last tapestry, where a lonely centaur looks down in a composition resembling the shape of the Centaurus constellation. This notable work of Almada Negreiros was weaved with the traditional technic and mastery of Portalegre tapestries and conveys all the energy of modernist art and of his passion for geometry.
I love tapestries in general and this ones from Almada Negreiros fascinate me for years, but my favorite work of the master at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is the mural Harvest. Carved in a black marble wall and column, with the carvings accentuated with gold leaf, its a stunning vision as we walk the corridor that leads to it.
Under the shadow of a large tree, a harvester rests, as a man looks at her, hidden behind another tree (carved on the column). The reflection of light from both the dark marble and the golden decorations creates a dazzling effect that is absolutely captivating.
These are outstanding works of art, but you must know that are not the only ones you can find at the Ritz. The hotel presents an exceptional collection of contemporary Portuguese art, including dozens of works from some of Portugal's most renowned artists. Alongside with Almada Negreiros you can find works of Pedro Leitão, Estrela Faria and Querubim Lapa, and I promise to bring you more on this impressive collection on a future article.
The hotel's art collection is so valuable and the investment on this area is so serious that the Ritz has its own App on it. You can download it free on iTunes and check all there is to see at this amazing hotel.
There are all the reasons in the world to visit this works of art as a Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon guest, but if you live in Lisbon or have another arrangements for your stay in the city, you can still have the opportunity to enjoy this great works of art. As a single visitor you can enter the hotel a have a look around (large groups are not allowed) or you can check Almada Negreiros works while having a tea at the Hotel's Lounge. There are several afternoon tea menus available but for the occasion I would suggest the Almada Negreiros option, inspired in the work of the master.
I'll be writing a review on the Almada Negreiros afternoon tea at the Ritz in the next few weeks, but if you take my suggestion for a top "culture addict meets foodie" program at Lisbon, visit the Almada Negreiros exhibition at Fundação Caloust Gulbenkian, enjoy the city, walking to the hotel (just a few minutes away) and have a delicious afternoon tea. Sounds great, doesn't it?