|António Silva Porto
Painter and professor
António Carvalho da Silva was born in the borough of Sé, in Porto, on 11th November 1850. He was the son of António da Silva Carvalho, a tinsmith and hewer, and Margarida de Silva Carvalho, an award-winner embroiderer (by the Associação Industrial do Porto), and the brother of Adelina Branca.
The Carvalho da Silva family lived in the oldest neighbourhood in the city. First, in Rua da Ponte Nova and later in Rua de Santo António do Penedo. The shy, young man (as described by the biographers) followed the moral and educational directions of his father in both places.
It is said that he was so fond of Porto that he himself adopted the surname "Porto". After he finished primary school, Silva Porto entered the Industrial School. In recognition of his talent, the school director, Guilherme Correia, introduced him to his brother, João António Correia, who would be Silva Porto's teacher.
In 1865 he enrolled at the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, where he attended several courses. He obtained excellent grades at all times (18 out of 20 in Sculpture and Historical Painting and 20 out of 20 in Architecture), and was the disciple of the painters João Correia and Thadeo d’ Almeida Furtado. In 1869 he participated in the 10th triennial exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts.
When he was 23 years old, he enrolled in the course of Landscape Painting for the boarding school, in Paris. He was approved by all members of the Jury in August 1873, as the candidate Artur Loureiro gave up.
On 29th October he departed to Paris in the company of the Historical Painting boarder, João Marques de Oliveira. In the French capital city, he attended classes taught by renowned masters, such as: Yvon, Alexandre Cabanel and Beauveri, Grosseillez and Daubigny at the National and Special Fine Arts School.
During this period, the French painter that influenced him most was Charles Daubigny, member of the outdoor painting Escola de Barbizon, and one of the pioneers of the Impressionist Movement. Like many of his peers, he painted the landscapes of the hoods of Fontainebleau and sought for inspiration in Auvers-sur-Oise, where he met Daubigny's son and painted the view from the local church and the river.
The influence of this pictorial school was clear in the 11th triennial exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, in 1874, where he exhibited two landscapes of the Parisian surroundings. In 1876 he lived close to the Luxembourg Museum, which he visited very often, just like Auvers-sur-Oise. That same year he participated in the Paris Salon.
In 1877 he travelled over Italy with Marques de Oliveira and returned to Paris in 1878. Although he settled in Montparnasse, he went on several trips to England, the Netherlands and Belgium. He participated in the 12th triennial exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts with a drawing and eleven oil paintings, exhibited at the Salon and participated in the Paris Universal Exhibition with the canvas "Un petit malheur", as part of the Portuguese group.
After his stay in Paris (1874-1879) and a quick stay in Spain, he returned to Porto. But not for long. He soon after left to Lisbon, upon the invitation of the Vice-director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Delfim Guedes (the Count of Almedina) to chair the discipline of landscape for two years. This temporary appointment would later transform into a permanent one. As he was settling in the Portuguese capital city, he was paid a visit by Ramalho Ortigão to the academy workshop, as this renowned writer of the "Geração de 70" had been appointed to publicly introduce the painter. That year he was also nominated an Academic of Merit by the Porto Academy of Fine Arts together with Marques de Oliveira, with whom he renewed the national painting.
In 1880 he successfully exhibited twenty-nine oil paintings at the 3rd exhibition of the Sociedade Promotora de Belas Artes. This debut in Lisbon granted the artist an enthusiastic acclaim and surprising sales. The painting "A Charneca de Belas", for example, was purchased by the King D. Fernando II for 300$00 reis, and the bottom line was 750$00. Marques de Oliveira contributed with the drawing of the War Car designed for the festival parade in honour of Camões - a festival aimed at celebrating the 300th anniversary of the death of the poet, directed by Ramalho Ortigão. In the meantime, he fell in love with Adelaide Torres, whom he married after her father's death, in 1882.
In 1881, Silva Porto was a habitué of the Leão d' Ouro pub, in the former Rua do Príncipe (presently Rua 1º de Dezembro), in Lisbon. This pub was attended by writers and artists. In spite of his shyness, he was one of the main guests of the "Grupo de Leão", which also included Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, José Malhoa, Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, João Vaz and António Ramalho, among others.
Over those years, he participated in the Exposicion General de Bellas Artes, in Madrid, in the 13th triennial exhibition of the Porto Academy of Fine Arts, in the 1st exhibition of the Centro Artístico Portuense and in the 1st exhibition of Modern Paintings of the "Grupo de Leão".
In the 2nd exhibition of Modern Paintings, he was criticised for neglecting art quality for the benefit of profit, in spite of his repeated success. He sold fifty-three paintings in this exhibition.
In 1883 he was permanently appointed Full Professor of Landscape of the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts. He participated in the 3rd exhibition of Modern Paintings, and after his holidays in the region of Entre Douro e Minho (as he did every year), he was paid a visit by the writer Monteiro Ramalho to his workshop.
The following year he participated in the 13th Salon of the Sociedade Promotora de Belas Artes with two oil paintings, and in the 4th Salon of modern paintings with twenty-six oil paintings. Among these was the acclaimed painting "A Salmeja", which was sold to the Viscount de Franco for the large sum of 600$00 reis.
In 1885 his friend Columbano painted the iconic "Grupo de Leão", a painting that depicted this club of intellectuals. On 20th April the newspaper Correio da Manhã described Silva Porto in the painting as follows: "The Christ of that jolly supper does not smile, and looks distant (...), emerged in the sweet poetic melancholy that no one can take away from him, his spirit floating in a world the colour of sapphire and moonlight!". That year he participated in the 5th Salon of Modern Art of the Grupo de Leão and in the exhibition of the Caldas da Rainha plant depot, in Avenida da Liberdade.
In 1886, during a stage in which he regularly painted herds and horses, he made a proposal to the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts to introduce animal themes in the selection of state boarders abroad, and exhibited in the 6th Modern Art Salon "A volta do Mercado".
In 1887 he participated in the 14th - and last - Salon of the Sociedade Promotora de Belas-Artes, in the art exhibition of the Ateneu Comercial do Porto and in the Modern Painting Salon.
In 1888 he exhibited again at the Ateneu Comercial do Porto, in the Lisbon Industrial Exhibition and in the last issue of the Modern Art Salon (8th). In the years that followed he exhibited at the Ateneu Comercial do Porto (1889 to 1893) and at the Grémio Artístico (1890 to 1893), which superseded the Grupo de Leão.
On 4th May 1893 his daughter Maria Irene was born. Soon after he got seriously ill, and died on the night of 11th June, of typhlitis. When he died, he had seven children and his father, who lived all his life in the same neighbourhood. Silva Porto made an indispensible contribution to the renewal of Portuguese painting of the end of the 19th century as he introduced, together with Marques de Oliveira, outdoor painting in the country - which he had learnt from the artists of Fontainebleau. His works of art are shown at the Chiado Museum, in Lisbon, and at the Soares dos Reis National Museum, in Porto - where he is one of the best-represented artists.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)