Not everything is as it seems, a garden on the walls of early modern Lisbon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The tile panels studied here were identified during surveys made on the walls of a building with "medieval roots", within the Medieval Walls of Lisbon. The panels seem to present a cohesive appearance. However, a deeper analysis reveals another reality. The tiles show an elaborate decoration, placed in social areas of the household. They display flowered vases, altering between smaller and larger compositions, with a simple frame. The iconography mirrors a longing for nature and may be considered an attempt to bring a pleasant garden into homestead who could not otherwise enjoy it in a packed part of town. The flowers display symbolism, impressing the idea of a tamed nature, befitting the contemporary religious sentiment. It is possible to differentiate between two painters (a master and apprentice?), as well identifying the reuse of sections and cut tiles to fill the available space. Sometimes, we can see the "cut" compositions and recognise the places where they were latter applied. The positioning of the panels also enables us to trace the evolution of their internal partitioning. There are numerous inclusions of different tiles, from different chronologies, but showing a careful and deliberate aesthetic concern to keep a certain flow and colour scheme.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropa Postmediaevalis 2020
Subtitle of host publicationPost-Medieval Pottery in the Spare Time
EditorsGabriela Blažková, Kristýna Matějková
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781789699180
ISBN (Print)9781789699173
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • Early modern Lisbon
  • Middle class
  • Tile symbolism
  • Tiles


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