Dom Afonso Henriques adoring Nossa Senhora da Oliveira and requesting her protection for the kingdom
Author: Friar Manuel dos Reis
Material: Oil on canvas
Dimensions (cm): H 173,5 x W 152
Provenance: Guimarães, Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
Inventory No.: MAS P 50
Kneeled before an altar, with the hands in position of prayer, Afonso Henriques is depicted wearing a costume with slashed sleeves and shorts. Behind him, several male figures of noblemen and clergymen are also kneeled. On the altar, there’s a sword and pieces of an armour; on a cushion, there’s a feathered hat.
This canvas from the 17th century was commissioned, together with three others (MAS P 51, MAS P 52 and MAS P 53), to the friar-painter Manuel dos Reis by the prior of the Colegiada de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Dom Diogo Lobo da Silveira. The purpose of this commission was to make a big altarpiece for the high altar of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. After sixty years under the Spanish rule and right after the Restoration war, Dom Diogo Lobo da Silveira wanted to propagate the deeds of the Portuguese and to stimulate the patriotic spirit.
The four paintings that formed the altarpiece had two important kings in the History of Portugal represented: Dom Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king, and Dom João I, the first king of the second dynasty. These paintings acted as political ex-votos, that is, offerings to thank Our Lady of the Olive Tree for Her intercession in difficult moments undergone by the Portuguese.