John Thomas Serres (British, 1759-1825) An English frigate in choppy waters in the Tagus passing the Belem Tower

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Lot 10
John Thomas Serres
(British, 1759-1825)
An English frigate in choppy waters in the Tagus passing the Belem Tower

Sold for £ 12,500 (US$ 17,027) inc. premium
John Thomas Serres (British, 1759-1825)
An English frigate in choppy waters in the Tagus passing the Belem Tower
indistinctly signed 'J.T.Serres' (lower right)
oil on canvas
35.6 x 44.4cm (14 x 17 1/2in).

Footnotes

  • A similar view of Belem by Serres is illustrated in Alan Russett, John Thomas Serres (Lymington, 2010), p. 157, colour plate 6.15. This would appear to be the only other view of Belem Painted by Serres. This this picture which measures 60 x 80 ins., with differences to the composition, sold Christie's, 24/2/05, £84,000).

    Resembling a fortress and indeed often referred to as 'Belem Castle', the picturesque landmark more commonly known as the Belem Tower was actually built as a fortified lighthouse and formed the apex of a triangle of three structures intended to guard the approaches to Lisbon. Begun by order of King Manuel I (1515-20) during the first year of his reign and completed in 1521, the tower originally stood on an island in the middle of the Tagus until the course of the river was diverted by an earthquake in 1777, resiting it to its present location adjacent to the northern bank. Designed by Diego and Francisco Arruda in the Manueline style, it is in fact Portugal's only pure Manueline building. The tower is decorated with elaborate symbols of national as well as royal power including armillary spheres [King Manuel's badge of honour], crosses of the Military Order of Christ and even some naturalistic elements such as a rhinoceros, the first such representation in stone known in Europe. Subsequently used as a prison and later still a telegraph station, occupying French troops destroyed the upper two stories in 1807 and even though these were later reconstructed, this romantic tower has been beloved by artists of all nationalities for several centuries.
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