Hall of Lost Steps
This hall is furnished and decorated as if it was a Waiting Room. Its name – Hall of Lost Footsteps – relates to the people who would walk from one side to the other, as they waited to be received by the Duke. Being so, people would be walking in a confined space leading nowhere.
In this hall, the Visitor may observe examples of several different types of pieces, such as textiles, paintings, furniture, porcelain as well as metal artifacts.
Coming in one’s gaze is immediately drawn to two large Tapestries, which are from an original set of four. These Tapestries are known as ‘Pastrana Tapestries’ for they are the unique copies of the originals from the last quarter of the 15th century, which can now be found in the Pastrana Collegiate, in Spain.
These Tapestries feature important moments in the conquest of the North of Africa during the reign of Afonso V. The Tapestries were probably commissioned by Royal command from one of the manufacturing centres in Flanders (Tournai, Belgium), during the third quarter of the 15th century and, according to Maria Antónia Quina, it was previously believed ‘that the tapestries would take between three to five years of work on four looms operating simultaneously with sixteen to twenty weavers. In Europe, as well as in the rest of the world, these Tapestries are a unique work which portray, with historical accuracy, all the events that occurred during the war which are also confirmed by several contemporaneous documents.
Several tables made of chestnut wood from the 16th and 17th centuries represent the furniture. There are also several Indo-Portuguese cabinets made of teak, inlaid with ebony, ivory, as well as iron fittings, dating from the 17th century. The term ‘Indo-Portuguese’ has been used to designate pieces that were produced between the 16th and 17th centuries, in the context of the international relations between Portugal and India. Nowadays, some people prefer to use the term “Indian export for the Portuguese market.”
With regard to the set of porcelain exhibited in this room, it is important to highlight the two large vases with lids, which were made on a lathe in polychrome white porcelain in cobalt blue, green, yellow, sepia and golden colours with European-themed decoration. These vases display the Coat of Arms of the purchasing Household: Sampaio & Melo. These pieces are Chinese, dating from the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, so they were produced between 1700 and 1720.
In one corner of this room, one may see a Lectern, which is a support to hold books, on which lies a Plainsong Book: a Kyrial.