|João Marques de Oliveira
Painter and teacher
João Marques da Silva Oliveira was born on 23 August 1853, in Porto, at 92-94 Santo António Street, the third of seven children of Joaquim Marques de Oliveira and Margarida Souza Loureiro, both from Valongo.
His attraction to drawing awakened in him since his childhood, and at the age of eleven he was admitted to the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, in the academic year 1864-1865, to study Historical Drawing, Civil Architecture and Perspective. He attended the five-year Design course and received good marks and honourable mentions for Historical Design, in the 3rd and 4th years, and the 1st prize for the same subject at the end of the course.
Between 1866 and 1869, he exhibited his first works at the 9th and 10th Triennial Exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts. On 13 October 1869, he enrolled in the Historical Painting course in which he distinguished himself as one of the best students of João António Correia. He completed the four-year course with very good marks and in the last year sat the exams for the State Scholarship Competition to travel abroad, having passed with eighteen out of twenty marks. This marked the beginning of his international career.
In 1873, he left for Paris with his colleague Silva Porto, as a Historical Painting scholarship student, and at the same time his brother Joaquim Marques da Silva Oliveira also began his artistic career by enrolling at the Porto Academy of Fine Arts.
Paris, Marques de Oliveira continued his studies at the National School of Fine Arts under the guidance of teachers Alexandre Cabanel and M. Yvon, and had the opportunity to come into contact with some painting movements, such as Naturalism, of the School of Barbizon, and Impressionism, and to travel to Holland, Belgium and Italy on study visits. Some of his works from this period were often awarded medals and honourable mentions. For his end of scholarship exam he submitted the painting Céfalo e Prócris.
On returning to Portugal in 1879, at a time when agitation marked the artistic circles in Porto with heated debates on the academic reform and the teaching of Fine Arts, Oliveira and Silva Porto introduced Outdoor Painting in Portugal, and were nominated Merit Scholars of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts. It was against this backdrop that the Porto Artistic Centre was established in Porto, in 1880, an association of artists whose intention was the advancement of arts in Portugal, similarly to the Grupo de Leão, led by Silva Porto in Lisbon. The sculptor Soares dos Reis was elected the first Chairman of the institution and Marques de Oliveira the Vice-Chairman. He was also part of the technical advisory council. He organized a very successful exhibition entitled "Bazar do Centro Artístico Portuense", held in the former Palácio de Cristal, between 27 March and April 1881.
In that same year, the Porto and Lisbon Academies of Fine Arts underwent their first reform, which resulted in an increase in the number of courses and in the split between the Academy, whose aim was to promote art and archaeology and protect the heritage of museums, and the School of Fine Arts, intended for teaching. At this point, Marques de Oliveira was appointed acting teacher of Historical Drawing at the Porto Fine Arts School, while in the field of artistic production he took part in the General Exhibition of Fine Arts of Madrid and participated in the 13th Triennial Exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts. In 1882, along with Caetano Moreira da Costa Lima, he sat the exams for the professorship competition.
From this time onwards, besides the Porto Academy of Fine Arts and the Porto Artistic Centre, the artist and teacher exhibited his popular and award-winning works at several exhibitions held at the Promotion Commission Visconde da Trindade, the Society for Promoting Fine Arts in Portugal, Grémio Artístico, the Porto Institute of Studies, Union Conferences and Photography, and at the National Society of Fine Arts.
By decree of 26 May 1911, the Academies of Fine Arts gave rise to three Councils of Art and Archaeology, leaving the district of Porto (the 3rd district) responsible for protecting the Porto Museum, which was then named Soares dos Reis Museum. Art education was split into two courses, Preparatory Course and Special Course. The copy of pictures was withdrawn from the drawing course, in favour of the special focus given to the drawing of live models. Marques de Oliveira, head of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts since 1906 and with some influence on these reforms, was nominated Chairman and member of the Executive Council of Art and Archaeology of Porto.
In 1913, he resigned as Head of the Porto School of Fine Arts of Porto to take over as Director of the Soares dos Reis Museum, keeping, however, his charges in the Council of Art and Archaeology. In 1926, he was forced to leave teaching because he reached the retirement age allowed by the new law, and also due to health reasons.
On 9 October 1927 this remarkable teacher and distinguished artist died at 237 Formosa Street. He introduced Naturalism in Porto, fought for the modernization of the Porto School of Fine Arts and for the modernization of national art; he dedicated himself to teaching and to his art, in particular landscapes (landscapes in the north of Portugal, in Matosinhos, Aguda, Póvoa de Varzim), decorative painting (for example, hemp canvases shown at the Presidential Office in Palácio da Bolsa, Porto), religious painting (the panels of the Holy Family and the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Congregados and São Lourenço churches, in the historical centre of Porto), as well as illustrations.
On 24 October, Henrique António Guedes de Oliveira, at an ordinary sitting at the Porto School of Fine Arts paid tribute to the deceased teacher. Two years later, in 1929, Marques de Oliveira was once again honoured in Porto, with the inauguration of a bronze bust in São Lázaro Garden, near the school where he had taught for 45 years, designed by Marques da Silva and with a sculpture by Soares dos Reis, and with the organization of an exhibition of his paintings at the Ateneu Comercial do Porto, where he had so often been an exhibitor.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)