The Church of São Pedro de Miragaia is home to what experts consider to be a “remarkable 16th-century triptych”. This example of the Dutch school, painted probably in the early 16th century, deserves to be known.
Great palaces are not needed to house great treasures. Embedded in the narrow streets of the Alfândega riverside, the Church of S. Pedro de Miragaia does not look like, from the outside, it is the home of a work of art with more than five centuries. The Triptych of Espírito Santo, originally painted for the Chapel of Hospital do Espírito Santo, at a little distance from the church of Miragaia, and transferred to its current location at the end of the 19th century, is, according to the National Culture Centre, a “remarkable” example of the Flemish Renaissance.
"The Triptych of Espírito Santo was made in Flanders, perhaps with the participation of a Portuguese painter and its date will be between 1512 and 1517", pointed out the researcher Carla Ferreira.
Over its more than 500 years, the triptych “underwent some changes”, notes Carla Ferreira: “In 1637, it was possibly incorporated into a retable and in 1887 it was transferred to the Church of Miragaia due to the ruined state of the chapel, changing the retable that framed it”.
“In 1914 it was sent to Lisbon, in order to be preserved and restored which was carried out by Luciano Freire, returning to the Church in 1926”, adds the researcher, stressing that the author of the triptych “is yet to be discovered, however it points to a school in Antwerp”. The website of Direção-Geral do Património Cultural admits that the Flemish painter Bernaert van Orley, compared in his time to the Italian master Rafael, is the author of the triptych.
Image: Filipa Brito
The work includes in its panels several religious representations: Pentecost in the centre; S. João Baptista and the donor, probably João de Deus II (on the left side); and S. Paulo (on the right side). When closed, the triptych displays the Annunciation.
Image: Filipa Brito
The Church of São Pedro de Miragaia, as we know it today, is the result of the rebuilding, in 1740, of the primitive medieval temple that existed there and that may have been partially demolished. It is, naturally, dedicated to S. Pedro, taking into account that Miragaia was historically a place inhabited by fishermen.
Its exterior is distinguished by the tiles that line the facade and also the side tower, applied between 1863 and 1876. Inside, the simplicity of the church contrasts “with the opulence of the baroque woodcarving that fully covers the chancel”, points out the Direção-Geral do Património Cultural, reinforcing: “Together with Santa Clara, or São Francisco, it is a significant example of a church lined with gold”.
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