D’uma estampa antiga. (From an old print). Drawings by Alfredo Miguéis for Avenida do Mar
June 30 to September 30, 2021
In 2017 the MASF restored the baroque tile panel that since 1750 has been part of the exterior of the Belvedere Tower of the building, and in the process, remodelled its two rooms, turning them into an exhibition space. The panel and the Belvedere Tower bring together the cityscape and the sea in a unique close relationship, thanks to the possibility of having a 360º view of the city of Funchal.

The educational actions and temporary exhibitions held here have essentially explored the theme of the landscape, the urbanism of Funchal, the relationship with the sea and the knowledge of the history of the blue ceramic tilework, both religious and profane, the ancient and contemporary, based on the large panel of theological virtues found there. The exhibition “From an old print. Drawings by Alfredo Miguéis for Avenida do Mar“ is an example of this effort, but the context of the pandemic in course made it impossible, for security reasons, to hold it directly in the two rooms of the tower.

The exhibition was curated by Martinho Mendes, from the Sacred Art Museum of Funchal, and Ana Margarida Araújo Camacho, director of the Frederico de Freitas House-Museum.

This show gravitated around five large-scale drawings on loan from the private owner, Prof. Norberto Gomes, who acquired them in 2012 on an internet platform. The drawings, unpublished, and at the right time bought by a collector from Madeira, are dated 1938 and signed by Alfredo Miguéis, an important Madeiran painter of the generation of Henrique and Francisco Franco.

The acquisition of these drawings contributed to a better understanding of the work of the author in question, but more than that, it led to the revision of the existing knowledge of the complex and extended construction project of the Avenida Marginal (later called Avenida do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses), a place that remains still alive in the memory of many generations of Madeirans.

The decisive role of the Frederico de Freitas House-Museum in the research

In order to make a more thorough study of Alfredo Miguéis' drawings, clearly inspired by old prints, and to understand the great work of urban modernization of the seafront, the only way in and out of the city for decades, where the tile panels were installed, the MASF sought the collaboration of the Frederico de Freitas House Museum. This is the museum that most specialises in the study of the blue ceramic tiles and engravings of Madeira, housing the most complete collections of this nature in the region. The research carried out by the team of this institution, among other things, discovered and dated the two phases of the order and production of these panels, and described and related the typologies of the once existing benches to the universe of antique engravings and prints of the nineteenth century used as a source by Alfredo Miguéis.

Other institutional collaborations

Research for the exhibition was also aided by the concession of iconographic sources from various institutions, such as the Archive and Public Library of Madeira; the Madeira Photography Museum - Atelier Vicentes; the Municipality of Funchal - Department of Land Planning. It also received contributions by the architect José Gil Gama, author of the thesis on architecture and tourism in the city of Funchal in the twentieth century, and photographs loaned by Rui Camacho, as well as postcards from the collection of Eng. José Manuel Melim Mendes, and a tile fragment from Dr. Jacinto Augusto. The museographic production of the exhibition was only possible thanks to the specific support of the Funchal City Council, in the context of the support granted annually by the municipal government to projects of cultural institutions of the city.