The story of the milliner

We may bemoan the modern celebrity with their selfies and the autobiographical instagram, but the habit of portraying your life through images you have approved has been around for centuries. One of the finest examples I have ever come across are the 18th/19th century autobiographical tiles of the milliner António Joaquim Carneiro. Not only do they offer a glimpse of 18th/19th century family life, each panel is a work of art and an insight into Portuguese cultural history.

Young Antonio Joaquim Carneiro tending cattle in the field and taking his brother home
Antonio in the pasture looking after his merchant grandfather’s cattle
Antonio travelling with a mule driver to his uncle’s home to learn his trade
Antonio learning his trade with his uncle Antonio Frire Carmeiro
Antonio at his shop with his mother, two sisters and two brothers
Antonio with his wife and five step-children taking care of his shop and business
Antonio in his carriage going to his estate where he has his factory and business

António commissioned the seven panels (and I think the frieze as well) for his manor house on his estate in Póvoa de Santo Adrião, a small village on the northern outskirts of Lisboa. It was here he also built his hat factory. close-up-of-friezeI don’t know what happened to the factory or the manor house after his death but the panels, created between 1790 and 1800, can be found in the Museu Nacional do Azulejo which is where I saw them earlier this year. They are according to the records an accurate portrayal of his rise from shepherd to successful businessman, not forgetting his fortuitous marriage to a wealthy widow. His life will always be remembered in the way he wanted it portrayed, and we benefit from a work of art. Much better than instagram!

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

13 thoughts

  1. How wonderful to have recorded a life on the tiles rather than just an instagrammed night on them! The tiles seem to be in superb condition too and to have kept their colour better than paintings woud have done too.

    1. Ha ha . . .love it, so clever 🙂 I’m definitely with you a life on tiles will always win over a night with instagram on them! And yes the colours have kept extraordinary well 🙂

    1. Porto Railway Station is on our list of must visit this winter . . .it looks extraordinarily beautiful in all the photos I have seen.

    1. Very true . . . and there is a lot of Dutch influence in Portugal.
      Love these tiles from Plymouth, stunning . . . fortunately these days they are all being saved fireplaces like this. Once they were thrown out as people updated. I’d be over the moon if I had these in my fire, and like you would want to know the history!

  2. I was in Lisbon two weeks ago and these also caught my eye. I forgot to take a photograph, so it was great to read your your blog about it.

    1. They are wonderful aren’t they, and I’m delighted my post was at such an opportune moment for you 🙂 I did get carried away with taking photographs at the museum but even so I know there are many others I wish I had photographed!

    1. Oh I’m glad they caught your eye too . . . I think a set of panels on your veranda would look great! Perhaps the next project?!

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