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Unveiling the public art in Príncipe Real Garden was a promise we made in our article Príncipe Real Garden, Attractions and Curious Facts.
This magnificent romantic garden keeps four pieces of public art that are worth seeing.
They’re three tributes to intellectuals that marked the Portuguese literature and political panorama, as well as a recent solidarity memorial that you might not know of yet.
Get to know Lisbon’s historic neighbourhoods in a guided tour and discover unmissable places of this magnificent city.
Monument of França Borges
Let’s start with the oldest piece of public art in Príncipe Real Garden from between 1924 and 1925 that pays homage to França Borges (1871-1915), whose name was given to this garden in the past.
It was produced by the sculptor Maximiano Alves (1888-1954), author of the Monument to the Great War Dead in Liberdade Avenue and of Statue of Ferreira do Amaral in the Encarnação neighbourhood.
This sculptural set is composed by: an overlap of stones that symbolise the determination and work of França Borges as a journalist and republican activist; his effigy, represented in a bronze medallion; and the life-sized figure of the Republic, seated with an attitude of complicity and acknowledgement.
This representation linking an honoured personality with a figure associated with him reminds us of a few works from the sculptor Costa Motta (tio).
The Bust of Sousa Viterbo
The bust of the writer, journalist and archaeologist Sousa Viterbo (1845-1910) has a curious story.
Shortly after his death, the future President of the Republic Bernardino Machado and the politician Abel Botelho presented to the senate of the Republic a proposal for a bronze bust of Sousa Viterbo financed by the State.
The project was declined and so the newspaper Diário de Notícias released a compilation of texts of their illustrious collaborator in the form of a book in order to raise funds for this project.
The initiative was a success and in 1913, instead of one, two busts were produced by Francisco Santos (1878-1930), the same sculptor of the Monument of Marquis of Pombal. These busts were donated to the Faculty of Fine Arts and to the Portuguese Association of Archaeologists.
Years later, this association gifted this piece to the City Council of Lisbon. They decided to place it in Príncipe Real Garden and inaugurate it on June 16, 1950.
This location was picked due to the fact that Sousa Viterbo passed away in the neighbouring parish of São Mamede and that it is near Bairro Alto, where the newspaper and printing offices were located.
Memorial to Antero de Quental
Since 1991 we can find this sculpture among the public art of Príncipe Real Garden. It is a memorial paying homage to the Azorean writer Antero de Quental (1842-1891). The traditional idea of producing a statue of him was excluded since there is already one in Estrela Garden.
This initiative from the City Council of Lisbon for the centenary of the death of this prominent poet, philosopher and socialist politician, aimed to have a sculpture representing his thoughts.
This task was assigned to the sculptor Lagoa Henriques (1923-2009), who among other pieces, is the author of the famous statue of Fernando Pessoa in Chiado.
This abstract sculpture made of concrete, stone and steel refers to Antero’s last poetry phase, where he acquired a metaphysical tone, an anguished expression of the search for the meaning of existence.
On the concrete base two sonnets by Antero de Quental are engraved.
Lisboa de Abril Cidade do Mundo – Tribute to the Victims of Homophobic Intolerance
In 2017 the memorial to the victims of homophobic and transphobic violence in Portugal was inaugurated in Príncipe Real Garden.
Installing this sculpture by Rui Pereira (1975), an initiative from the City Council of Lisbon, reveals two paradoxical realities. On the one hand, it’s an affirmation of the city as cosmopolitan, multicultural and tolerant. But on the other hand it shows that if this affirmation is needed then it means that this is a reality that still needs to become true.
With this work of public art of Príncipe Real Garden, the sculptor sought to create a space of introspection and reflection, an open door to finding ourselves and others in the creation of a freer, more cohesive and just society.
It was in honour of the writer, intellectual and playwright, but above all the great advocate of non-violent resistance, icon of the Velvet Revolution, the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel (1936-2011), that this memorial was inaugurated, on June 22, 2017.
Other identical places can be found in many cities around the world, but the first one was installed at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., in 2013.
The original idea came from Petr Gandalovič, the Czech ambassador to the United States of America from 2011 to 2017. He invited the Czech architect and designer Bořek Šípek to create a piece of public art that would represent Havel and his democratic vision.
Šípek designed two garden chairs arranged next to a round table with an opening in the top intended for the passage of a linden tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic. With this set, the artist intends to represent a meeting place in a public space for the promotion of dialogue, discussion and freedom of speech.
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