Within the vast number of art works collected by King Ferdinand II (1816-1885) throughout his life, stained glass occupies a place of particular prominence. Although stained glass has always attracted the interest of European aristocratic elites, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha showed a particular attraction to this material. The Dukes Ernest II (1818-1893) and Alfred (1844-1900 left us some of the most important collections of this artistic discipline.
Sharing the interest of his family, D. Ferdinand created the most important collection of European stained glass in Portugal. This collection is the counterpart of those in the palaces of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha House, Germany, and of that at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It was in thePalácio das Necessidadesthat the king concentrated much of this collection of stained glass panels, grouped together and mounted in the windows of the dining room of the palace. Similar assemblages were also mounted in the great hall of Palácio da Pena. D. Ferdinand introduced the use of stained glass in the windows of the main halls of residences in Portugal reflecting a tradition of central and northern Europe.
In 2011 the set of stained glass windows ofPalácio das Necessidadeswas presented to the general public for the first time on the Stag Room ofPalácio da Pena (exhibition Stained Glass and Glass Objects – Ferdinand II’s passion), having been intended to show the collection and the meticulous restoration procedure followed, as well as making it available to the further investigation of its origins and its relations with other art collections of the royal family.
The research team includes conservation scientists, art historians, researchers experienced in archaeometry and materials sciences, as well as internationally recognized consultants.
The interdisciplinary work of this team will enable the achievement of relevant results in a pioneering study in our country. It is of strategic interest to raise awareness about the value and importance of the heritage of stained glass in Portugal. A wider and deeper understanding of the origins and technological characteristics of the production of stained glasses will allow a greater appreciation of this heritage.
This project results from protocol established between Parks of Sintra - Monte da Lua SA, a publicly owned private company, accountable for managing the Palácio Nacional da Pena, the Research Unit of Glass and Ceramics for the Arts (VICARTE) and the Department of Conservation and Restoration, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Together they were responsible for the preparation of the exhibition Stained Glass and Glass Objects – Ferdinand II’s passion. The project also includes the participation of researchers from the Ion Beam Laboratory of the Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear/Instituto Superior Técnico.