Glory of Lisbon
Commissioned by Doña Elvira Maria de Vilhena, Countess of Pontével (1627–1718) and consecrated on the sixth of September, 1708, the church of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação (Our Lady of the Incarnation) in the heart of Lisbon is among the most splendid Baroque churches in a city known for its exquisite architectural heritage. Until recently, however, the extraordinary paintings that grace its vaulted interior went virtually unnoticed, obscured by untold coats of varnish and blackened by soot. Today, this celestial suite of polychromed cherubim and seraphim has been returned to its former glory after a year-long conservation program, underwritten by WMF Portugal and carried out by master restorers from the art conservation firm Junqueira 220. Dated to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the paintings are not the first to have graced the church’s interior, but rather the third—the sanctuary having been ravaged by fire and natural disaster on several occasions since its cornerstone was laid nearly three centuries ago.