Museu de Artes Decorativas
In 1953, Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva, a banker and art collector, donated part of his valuable art collections to the Portuguese nation. This generous donation included the Azurara Palace, a fine 18th-century building near one of the best views in old Lisbon, the Largo das Portas do Sol.
Some truly exceptional works adorn the rooms of the palace, where the visitor feels transported to the ambience of an 18th-century house of the Portuguese nobility.
It has one of the most important furniture collections in Portugal, with pieces from the 16th to 19th centuries, including some items representing Portugal's encounter with distant cultures.
The decoration includes examples of the finest Arraiolos carpets, quilts and embroidered cloths of oriental influence, painting by Portuguese artists and foreigners working in Portugal, an important collection of gold and silverware assembled by the founder, including an admirable set of civilian Portuguese silverware of the 16th to 19th centuries, porcelain and glassware. Small but valuable objects such as drawings, engravings, bound books and watches are displayed around the various rooms to reinforce the feeling of life in a family house.
With the mission of promoting the study of Portuguese decorative arts, and to encourage top quality professional training, the Foundation runs the Escola Superior de Artes Decorativas (Higher School of Decorative Arts) and the Instituto de Artes e Ofícios (Arts and Crafts Institute).
Various workshops are held here for the study of traditional crafts relating to woodwork, decorative painting, carving and engraving, bookbinding, gilding and Arraiolos carpetmaking, among others. Of the many works undertaken all over the world, we single out the restoration of Mme. Du Barry's library at the Palace of Versailles, following a fire.