On the route from the center of Lisbon to Belém is the Ancient Art Museum, the only institution in the city to approach the status of the Gulbenkian. Housed in a 17th-century palace once owned by the Counts of Alvor and vastly enlarged in 1940 when it took over the Convent of St. Albert, the museum has a beautifully displayed collection of Portuguese art—mainly from the 15th through 19th century
The religious works of the Flemish-influenced Portuguese school stand
out, especially Nuno Gonçalves' masterpiece, the St. Vincent Panels. Painted between 1467 and 1470, the altarpiece has six panels believed to show the patron saint of Lisbon receiving the homage of king, court, and citizens (although there are other theories). Sixty figures have been identified, including Henry the Navigator; the archbishop of Lisbon; and sundry dukes, fishermen, knights, and religious figures. In the top left corner of the two central panels is a figure purported to be Gonçalves himself.
The museum also boasts early Flemish works that influenced the Portuguese, and other European artists are well represented, such as Hieronymous Bosch, Hans Holbein, Brueghel the Younger, and Diego Velázquez. There are also extensive collections of French silver, Portuguese furniture and tapestries, Asian ceramics, and items fashioned from Goan ivory.
Tram 15 from Praça do Comércio drops you at the foot of a steep flight of steps below the museum. Otherwise, Buses 27 and 49 from Praça Marquês de Pombal run straight to Rua das Janelas Verdes, via Rossio; coming from Belém, you can pick them up across from the Jerónimos monastery.
Rua das Janelas Verdes, Lisbon, Portugal
21-396–2825; 21-396–4151; 21-391–2800