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  • 1 Contemporary Art Studies and Art History Department Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
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Although it is currently considered to be one of the major achievements in Portuguese art history, the recovery of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake was not always recognized as such. Monotony, pragmatism, parsimony, repetitive patterns and a lack of fantasy and originality were powerful anathemas that cast a vast shadow over the city built under Marquis de Pombal's government. In 1949, Pardal Monteiro, one of the most important Portuguese modernist architects, was the first author to re-evaluate the pombaline city fabric arguing that its architecture and urbanism foreshadowed the Modern Movement. However the terms of his appraisal prompted significant interest, the main critical discourses kept on reflecting a negative assessment of Pombal's undertaking. José-Augusto França's Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo (Pombaline Lisbon and the Enlightenment) published in 1965 was the turning point in this regard – despite the fact that the negative discourse still endures in its own preface contributed by Pierre Francastel, the recognition of the reconstructed city as a Public Interest heritage in 1978 was a direct outcome of this study. França's complete and thorough analysis placed the new city within the aesthetics of the Enlightenment and emphasised the symbolic dimension both of its urban plan and of its plaza real. Yet França did not grant any artistic value to its housing typology – even if he recognises that the housing block is the very Pombaline building. My argument points out the theoretical framework that supported those discourses, while addressing the paradox implied on França's thesis – i.e. the simultaneous recognition of the architectonic importance of the housing typology and its lack of aesthetics qualities.

  • 1. Bergdoll's account starts with some basic and useful information: “Its ancient centre destroyed by a violent earthquake and tidal wave on All Saint's Day 1755, Lisbon become overnight the focus of European intellectuals’ attention, as the city's reconstruction over the next decades under the enlightened despotic reign of the Marquis de Pombal was accompanied by a concerted effort to reform and rationalize one of Europe's most traditional and pious monarchies. At the centre of the new masterplan, drawn by the engineer Eugénio dos Santos and approved in June 1758, just months before the Jesuits were expelled from Portugal, was a great urban square opening directly onto the broad wash of the Tagus river.” (B. Bergdoll, European Architecture 1750–1890. – Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 52).

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  • 2. In Kenneth Maxwell's synthesis: “Didier Robert de Vaugondry in 1781 commissioned an article on Lisbon for the Encyclopedie Méthodique from the erudite Portuguese natural scientist José Correa da Serra. Correa da Serra missed the deadline, however, and his article arrived in Paris too late to be published, with the consequence that Enlightenment Europe learned nothing of the new urban invention that had replaced the jumbled medieval city destroyed on November 1, 1755” (K. Maxwell, “Lisbon: The Earthquake of 1755 and urban recovery under the Marquês de Pombal”, Out of Ground Zero: case studies in urban reinvention/ ed. J. Ockman. – Munich: Prestel, 2002: 37).

  • 3. Decreto N. º 95/78 de 12 de Junho de 1978.

  • 4. See J.-A. Fran ça, Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo [Pombaline Lisbon and the Enlightenment]. – Lisboa: Betrand, 1987 [1965], p.372, n. 1.

  • 5. P. Varela Gomes , “O Paradoxo do Rossio”, A Cultura Arquitectónica e Artística em Portugal. – Lisboa: Caminho, 1988, pp. 94; see also J. Cunha LEAL, “Legitimação artística e patrimonial da Baixa pombalina. Um percurso pela crítica e pela história da arte portuguesas”, Monumentos. – N. 21 (2005, pp. 617).

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  • 6. Pardal Monteiro , Os Portugueses precursores da Arquitectura Moderna e do Urbanismo. – Porto: Círculo Dr. José de Figueiredo, 1949 and Eugénio dos Santos precursor do Urbanismo e da Arquitectura Moderna. – Lisboa: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, 1950.

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  • 7. See P. Varela Gomes, “O Paradoxo do Rossio”, pp. 115 and ss.

  • 8. Pardal Monteiro , Os Portugueses precursores da Arquitectura Moderna e do Urbanismo, p. 21.

  • 9. Pardal Monteiro , Idem, p. 11.

  • 10. All quotations from Pardal Monteiro, Idem, p. 16.

  • 11. See P. Francastel, “Para una sociología del arte: Método o problemática?”, Sociologia del arte. – Madrid: Alianza, 1990 [1970], pp. 734 and La Sociologie de l'art et sa vocation interdisciplinaire: I Colloque International du Centre Pierre Francastel. – Lisboa: FCG, 1974.

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  • 12. P. Francastel , “Prefácio”, Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo, p.10.

  • 13. P. Francastel , Idem, p. 8.

  • 14. P. Francastel , Idem, p. 8.

  • 15. J.-A. Fran ça , Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo, p. 173.

  • 16. J.-A. Fran ça , “Lisboa Pombalina e a Estética do Iluminismo”, Lisboa Iluminista e o Seu Tempo. – Lisboa: UAL, 1994, p. 18.

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  • 17. J.-A. Fran ça , Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo, p. 179.

  • 18. J.-A. França , Lisboa: Urbanismo e Arquitectura. – Lisboa: Bib. Breve, ICLP, 1980, p. 46.

  • 19. J.-A. França , Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo, p.173.

  • 20. J.-A. França , Idem, p. 174.

  • 21. J.-A. França , Idem, p.174.

  • 22. A. Rossi , A Arquitectura da Cidade. – Lisboa: Cosmos, 2000 [1966].

  • 23. A. Rossi , Idem, pp. 96100.

  • 24. H.R. Jauss , A Literatura como provocação. – Lisboa: Veja, 1993 [1967], p. 71.

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