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University of Porto Famous Alumni

Tomás Costa

Photograph not available Tomás Costa

Tomás de Figueiredo Araújo Costa was born in 1861 in S. Tiago de Riba-Ul parish, in the council of Oliveira de Azeméis.

In 1882, he enrolled in the Porto Academy of Fine Arts where he was taught by masters Marques de Oliveira and Soares dos Reis and was a fellow student of António Teixeira Lopes.

In 1885, he competed for the State bursary in Paris, together with Teixeira Lopes and António Molarinho, with the sculpture entitled "Catão preparando-se para a morte" (Cato preparing to die), won this bursary and left for Paris.

Here, he studied under the supervision of Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900) and Antonin Mercier (1845-1916), he did many sculpture works and participated in several art exhibitions.

In 1887, he exhibited the sculpture "Dançarino" (Dancer) at the Salon, a sculpture which is said to be the finest work produced by the artist during his youth, and intended for a public space in Lisbon. In fact, it was purchased in 1914 by the National Museum of Contemporary Art. He also received an honourable mention in a Ronde-Bosse competition, with the sculpture "Figura de Mulher" (A figure of a woman).
In the following year, at the Salon, he exhibited the sculptures "Dançarino" and the torso of "Mlle. Déchamps".

Monumento ao Duque de Saldanha em LisboaIn the 1889 Universal Exhibition, he won a 3rd place medal with the sculpture "Dançarino". In 1890, he took "David" and the torso of "Melo Viana" to the Salon, he projected the "Monumento a Vasco da Gama" (Monument to Vasco da Gama) for Macau (inaugurated in 1911) and won the competition for the Monument to the Duke of Saldanha, co-authored by architect Ventura Terra, the author of the pedestal.

The erection of this monument in tribute to João Carlos Gregório Domingos Vicente Francisco de Saldanha de Oliveira Daun (1790-1876), 1st Earl, Marquis and Duke of Saldanha, was ordered by decree in 1889, and the monument was inaugurated in 1909 in the Duque de Saldanha Square, Lisbon, by King Manuel II. The descendents of the Earl were present in the ceremony. The sculptures and the bronze decorations used in the sculpture were made in the Army's gun foundry, between 1904 and 1907.

In 1891, he exhibited the sculpture "Eva" (Eve) at the Salon.

Monumento ao Infante D. Henrique no PortoThree years later, he competed for the "Monumento ao Infante D. Henrique" (Monument to Prince Henry), a competition launched by the Sociedade de Instrução do Porto, and presented the project "Invicta", done in Paris. Tomás Costa won the competition and some of the losing entrants were Ventura Terra, Marques da Silva, Adães Bermudes and António and José Teixeira Lopes. The sculptures were approved by masters Falgueière and Boucher, and were cast in bronze at the Barbedienne foundry and transported by train to Porto, except for one statue which was left in the Quai d'Orsay.
The first stone for this controversial monument was laid during the Commemorations on the 500th anniversary of the birth of Prince Henry, on 4 March 1894, and the inauguration was held on 20 October 1900, when King Carlos and Queen Amélia came on a visit to Porto. The initial project was changed several times. Nevertheless, some art critics saw in this statue a page - a knight's attendant - the image of which resembled a sculpture in the south doorway of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

In 1900, Tomás da Costa received the silver medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris with the painting "Nascente" (Water Spring), also known as "Fonte do Amor" (Fountain of Love), and the sculptures "Na Floresta" (In the "Woods), "Fé Cristã" (Christian Faith) and the statue of Prince Henry (a detail in the Porto monument).
In the following year, he took part in the competition for the monument to Sousa Martins.

In 1906, he showed the sculptures "Vénus Anadiomene", "Flor do campo", "Hebe" in the Bobone Hall, and the torsos of the Countess of Cartaxo and of Mademoiselle J. C.

He then participated in the Rio de Janeiro National Exhibition, in 1908, with the sculpture "Agricultura" (Agriculture), "Hebe", "Vénus Anadiomene", "Cabeça de criança" (head of a child) and "David". For the competition for the Monument to the Peninsular War (1909) he suggested the sculpture "Lusíadas", which received an honourable mention. During this period, he worked in his workshop in Edifício das Cortes, in Lisboa.

Busto da República de Tomás CostaAround 1910, he sculptured a torso of the Republic for S. Bento Palace (which houses the Portuguese Parliament), which is today the property of the Parliament Museum.

In the 1920s, he designed a Monument to Almeida Garrett, and joined the X Exhibition organized by the National Society for Fine Arts (1913); in 1919, he also designed a monument to Vasco da Gama, which was to be erected in front of the Jerónimos.

Monumento a António Nobre no Jardim João ChagasIn 1925, together with his uncle António Augusto da Costa Mota, he was part of the executive committee that supervised the construction of the Memorial to the Dead of the 1st World War, in Lisbon, and in 1927 a torso of António Nobre, designed by Tomás Costa, was inaugurated in the João Chagas Garden ("Jardim da Cordoaria"), in Porto; the torso was erected on a plinth and was decorated with motif work by Henrique Moreira.

Tomás Costa also planned the construction of a monument to the Earl of Palmela, built a monument to Dr. António Maria de Senna, shown in the Conde de Ferreira Hospital, in Porto, and designed, pro bono, the allegory visible in the tomb of the Viscount of Valmor, at the Alto de S. João Cemetery, commissioned by the Grémio Artístico.

The sculptor died in Lisbon, at the Ajuda Sanatorium, on 27 March 1932.

Posthumously, the Portuguese Government purchased his sculpture "David" (1935) and inaugurated two statues of António Nobre, by Tomás Costa, one in Coimbra (1939) and the other in Funchal (1941).
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2009)

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