Queluz Palace Garden
The 18th-century Queluz Palace Garden, built by King Pedro III, is renowned for its ornate fountains and waterfalls. The gardens feature a Grand Canal adorned with ceramic tiles or azulejos decorated with historic scenes and sites of interest to the Portuguese court. Representing some of the latest expressions of Baroque and Rococo landscape design from 18th-century Europe, the Palace Garden was also a marvel of hydraulics. These extensive systems provided water to the gardens, the fountains and the palace. The Queluz Palace Gardens contain a large and important series of stone and lead sculptures. The lead sculptures were cast by the British sculptor, John Cheere, and represent an important group that remains in situ. Through collaboration with WMF-Britain, the Portuguese Government and local institutions, this WMF-Portugal project aimed to restore the gardens and conserve its various decorative features while developing stone, lead and tile conservation training programs.
How We Helped
Beginning in 2004 and continuing today, WMF has been involved in a variety of projects at Queluz. From 2004 to 2006, the Grand Canal in the garden was a special focus. Historical research was carried out and 50,000 tiles were digitally mapped to review conditions and conservation needs. Emergency repairs were undertaken, as well as necessary cleaning. In 2009, conservators also addressed storm damage in this region of the garden. From 2005 to 2008, marble and limestone statues and balustrades were addressed and training workshops for these conservation problems were organized, so that local artisans and workers would be well equipped to monitor the conditions over time and undertake regular maintenance. For a three-year period beginning in 2006, WMF Britain organized the conservation of lead sculpture designed by 18th century English artist John Cheere. The restoration of the remaining sculptures and fountains will be carried out in situ by Portuguese conservators including those trained in workshops organized by WMF in recent years. The conservation of the garden also involves horticultural planning and conservation. Diseased sycamore trees will be removed and plant growth will be monitored carefully along the Canal to preserve the garden design and protect the conserved areas from overgrowth that could damage fragile materials.
Why It Matters
Centuries of exposure to the elements and natural aging have left these extraordinary sculptures in poor condition. The project will allow WMF to demonstrate its capacity to preserve a designed environment, focusing simultaneously on issues of materials restoration, engineering, landscape renewal and statuary conservation. The Queluz Palace Garden project was also an opportunity to bring international expertise to Portugal and train local technicians, and was the first collaboration between WMF’s affiliates in Portugal and Britain. The project has proven effective in the development of the maintenance methodology for the stone statues. It is hoped to use the same approach for the tile canal and the gardens. The Lead sculpture workshops have served to train local conservators in a specialty area.