Sara Afonso, Retrato de Manuel Mendes, c. 1935-40
Sara Afonso, Retrato de Manuel Mendes, c. 1935-40


entry: General Conditions

Manuel Mendes Collection

Curatorship: Margarida Marques Matias
In 1977, the Portuguese State acquired the bibliographic and artistic collection from Manuel Mendes from the writer's widow, Berta Mendes. A first step was thus taken, guaranteeing the concentration of extremely important documentation relating to the recent history of the country and to art criticism of the mid-20th century. The collection of modern art, included in this collection, due to the generational completeness and recurrence of themes and portraits, constitutes a set also of great unity. With this important acquisition, a remarkable heritage was safeguarded from a dispersion that would be detrimental to all titles.
After a summary inventory carried out by the Portuguese Museum Institute in 1992, integration in the Museu do Chiado took place in 1997, since Manuel Mendes' critical, essayistic and even artistic activity aroused a natural interest for this museum whose chronological scope it also includes the reference time of the estate.
In 1999, a cooperation protocol was signed between the Ministry of Culture and the Mário Soares Foundation for the digitization of the documentary and photographic collections. The multiplicity of domains that it comprises, such as the political, the social or the literary, go beyond the sphere of competence of a museum of modern art and with the generous commitment shown from the first hour by Dr. Mário Soares it was possible to divide areas of work for the Mário Soares Foundation to carry out work in the scientific areas for which it is naturally dedicated and that here and together with this exhibition, a balance of the works carried out is presented.
The Manuel Mendes collection of fine arts brings together a set of works in which a significant number of initiators of modern Portuguese art are present. The strong referentiality that most of these works presents is centered on the figures of Berta and Manuel Mendes, in their circle of friends and their families or on qualified works arising from the knowledge and recognition raised by the critical and essayist activity, constituting a cohesive unit and that it should not be disjointed.
It was then, following a proposal by Dr. Mário Soares, a longtime friend of the writer, that this exhibition came to fruition. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for your commitment and for the opportunity that the Mário Soares Foundation has given the Museu do Chiado to make this presentation at the moment when new facilities at its headquarters are inaugurated.
The study of this group of fine arts was conducted by Drª Margarida Marques Matias, who curated this show in a way that is remarkably sensitive to its intimate characteristics and the stylistic unity of a generation. Dr Maria de Aires Silveira organized the entire collection survey, as well as the organization of the exhibition with great effort and efficiency. Dr. Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho planned and organized this catalog. The Photographic Documentation Division of the Portuguese Museum Institute revealed a total availability in the collaboration provided and the Institute itself in the figure of its director, Drª RaquelHenriques da Silva, was of an absolute generosity in the way it made possible the means necessary to make this exhibition possible . The Portuguese Institute for Conservation and Restoration also made a significant contribution that I would like to thank.

Pedro Lapa
Director of the Chiado Museum