Francisco de Holanda

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Francisco de Holanda
Francisco de Holanda - self-portrait, ca. 1573.jpg
Self-portrait (ca. 1573), the artist presenting his book
Born 6 September 1517
Lisbon, Portugal
Died 19 June 1585 (1585-06-20) (aged 67)
Lisbon, Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Occupation Humanist, arquitect, sculptor, painter and historian

Francisco de Holanda (originally Francisco d'Olanda; 6 September 1517 – 19 June 1585) was a Portuguese humanist and painter. Considered to be one of the most important figures of the Portuguese Renaissance, he was also an essayist, architect, and historian.

Francisco de Holanda was born in Lisbon, and began his career as an illuminator, following in the footsteps of his father, António d'Holanda, royal illuminator. He studied in Italy between 1538 and 1547, during which he frequented the circle of Vittoria Colonna, one of the notables of the Italian Renaissance who provided him with access to some of the great artists of his period, such as Parmigianino, Giambologna, and, most importantly, Michelangelo who introduced him to classicism.

Drawing of the Ponte de Sacavém by Francisco de Holanda from his De fábrica

Returning to Portugal, he obtained various commissions from the Cardinal-Archbishop of Évora, and of the Portuguese kings, John III (1521-1557) and Sebastian (1568-1578). He died in Lisbon.

The aesthetic values of the Renaissance were strongly expressed by Francisco, who stated that the main objective of the painter was to stimulate personal originality and to follow the link to nature (the pure mirror of the Creator) and the link to the ancients—immortal masters of greatness, symmetry, perfection and decorum. Much of this was presented in his three-part treatise on the nature of art, On Ancient Painting (Da Pintura Antiga, 1548), especially in the second part which contains 4 dialogues, supposedly with Michelangelo.[1] Here his passion for classicism is brought to the forefront, as he communicates the essence of the work of Michelangelo and of the contemporary artistic movement in Rome.

Possessing a versatile intellect, Francisco de Holanda distinguished himself through his series of drawings, "Drawings of the Antiquities [of Italy]" (1540–1547), through his studies on the revival of the archaeological heritage of Rome and on Italian art in the first half of the 16th century.

Francisco was the creator of the facade of the Church of Our Lady of Grace (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça) in Évora. He also painted a number of portraits, not all of which survive.[2]

A copy of Francisco's portrait of King John III of Portugal

Francisco wrote the first essay on urbanism in the Iberian Peninsula (Da fábrica que falece à cidade de Lisboa, "On the construction lacking to the city of Lisbon") — and created other books of drawings such as De aetatibus mundi imagines and Antigualhas.


Francisco de Holanda was the author of:

  • De aetatibus mundi imagines (1543–1573)
  • Da pintura antiga (Lisbon, 1548)
    • Part II: Diálogos de Roma
  • Do tirar polo natural (1549)
  • Da fábrica que falece à cidade de Lisboa (Lisbon, 1571)
  • De quanto serve a ciência do desenho e entendimento da arte da pintura, na república christâ assim na paz como na guerra (Lisbon, 1571).


  1. ^ Ronald W. Sousa, "The View of the Artist in Francisco de Holanda's Dialogues",Luso-Brazilian Review 15 (1978), p. 44.
  2. ^ Annemarie Jordan, Retrato de Corte em Portugal. O Legado de António Moro (1552-1572) (Lisbon: Quetzal Editiores, 1994), p. 50.


  • Alves, José da Felicidade, Introdução ao estudo da obra de Francisco de Holanda (Lisbon, 1986)
  • Deswarte, Sylvie,As Imagens das Idades do Mundo de Francisco de Holanda (Lisbon, 1987)
  • Santos, Mariana Amélia Machado,"'Á Estética de Francisco de Holanda, I Congresso do Mundo Português (Lisbon, 1940)
  • Segurado, Jorge, Francisco d'Ollanda (Lisbon, 1970)
  • Sousa, Ronald W., "The View of the Artist in Francisco de Holanda's Dialogues: A Clash of Feudal Models," Luso-Brazilian Review 15 (1978), 43-58.
  • Vilela, José Stichini, Francisco de Holanda, Vida, Pensamento e Obra (Lisbon, 1982)

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