The Moscow Kremlin State Historical and Cultural Museum and Heritage Site (the Moscow Kremlin Museums) is happy to announce that between December 8, 2017 and February 25, 2018, the exhibition halls of the Assumption Belfry and the Patriarch's Palace will host the exhibition "Lords of the Ocean. Treasures of the Portuguese Empire of the 16th-18th Centuries". It would be the first time for the Moscow Kremlin Museums to turn their attention to the history of one of the greatest global empires of the Modern Era at its golden age.
"An important cultural and historical event is planned for December: the exhibition "Lords of the Ocean. Treasures of the Portuguese Empire of the 16th-18th Centuries" will open in the Moscow Kremlin Museums. It is dedicated to the history and culture of the Portuguese colonial empire during the Age of Discovery," President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin said at the presentation of diplomatic credentials on October 3, 2017, mentioning the recent enhancement of bilateral cooperation with Portugal.
"Continuing our exhibition series which introduce the treasures of the Royal courts of Europe, this time we focus on history and culture of Portugal as a great colonial empire, which played a crucial role in world history. It is indisputable that the metropoly changed religious and cultural landscape of its colonies, but our aim is to demonstrate that the process was mutual. The exhibition will be the first project that will use unique European Royal treasures to show how Portuguese colonization of Africa, India and South America influenced the Old World's art, culture and science," said Elena Gagarina, General Director of the Moscow Kremlin Museums.
More than 140 artifacts from museums and private collections of Europe and Russia will help to demonstrate the magnificence of the Portuguese court during the global expansion of the empire. Museums which lent their pieces for the exhibition include: the National Museum of Ancient Art (Lisbon), the National Archive of Torre do Tombo (Lisbon), the National Palace of Sintra, the Royal Armoury (Madrid), the British Museum (London), the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the State Hermitage Museum, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, etc.
The Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) kept by the National Archive of Torre do Tombo (Lisbon), which divided Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence in the New World, will be an important part of the display. In addition, visitors will be able to see exhibits related to the explorer Vasco da Gama, ceremonial objects from palaces, as well as portraits of rulers and famous historical figures, who played an important role in the history of the Portuguese colonial empire. Some exhibits give an example of Manueline — a unique ornamental architectural style indigenous to Portugal which combines elements of Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance styles and exotic motifs associated with ocean voyages.
Special attention will be paid to the art of navigation and cartography: visitors will be able to see maps and sailing directions demonstrating rapid changes in the European perception of the world. The Age of Discovery witnessed flooding of Europe with exotic natural materials and luxury goods made of them, becoming an indispensable attribute of European treasuries and first Cabinets of Curiosities. Such artworks, including masterpieces from the Treasury of the Russian Tsars, will occupy an important place of the display. The exhibition will demonstrate pieces created on different continents both under the influence of the Portuguese and European culture and as a result of mutual influence.
Unique artifacts will present vivid evidence of interaction and cultural exchange between Europe, Asia, Africa, and the New World. These are examples of so-called "export art" — objects made of silver, wood, ivory, and bronze in different parts of the colonial empire for European customers. Some objects will demonstrate the emergence of European decorative motifs into the design of traditional items used by the locals.
Majority of exhibits will be displayed in Russia for the first time.
General sponsor of the project is BANK VTB (PJSC)