The expositive nucleus of the Santa Maria do Castelo church consists of a vast group of Sacred Art that materializes the long-time wish of constituting a space dedicated to the religious art of the vast estate of Tavira. Where the importance of the sacred heritage of this city is revealed and, simultaneously, where visitors' attention may be drawn to its recovery and safeguarding.
Organized by the Parishes of Santa Maria and Santiago, this exhibition brings together a diverse artistic collection from various chapels and churches in the city and surrounding areas.
The pieces presented are a valuable sample of the artistic collection dedicated to Catholic worship with greater artistic and historical interest, which gathered over the centuries in Tavira. The exhibition includes pieces ranging from the 15th to the 20th century, in a diversity of categories covering: sculpture (mostly in wood); goldsmithery (pieces in silver and other metals); liturgical furniture; painting; and clothing.
Essentially pictorial specimens are presented, of which the following are noteworthy: the banner of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, 18th century, with oil painting on canvas, representing on one side Our Lady and on the reverse the custody. It is known to be attributed to Francisco Vieira Lusitano, considered the best Portuguese artist of the Joanine period. It was part of the procession of panels that took place in memory of the 1755 earthquake, leaving from the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (São Roque), during which the blessing of the city was given.
The canvas with the theme of the Immaculate Conception dates from the first half of the 18th century (circa 1730) and although it is not signed, it is attributed to the Italian painter Giovanni Odazzi. This painting has many similarities with another one attributed to the same artist, with the same theme, which is in Mafra Palace. Both should follow the pictorial model of Carlo Maratti, with which it also shows great similarities. Belonging to the church of the Misericórdia in Tavira, its provenance takes us back to the time of King João V, who probably donated the painting to the church of the former hospital of São José in order to enhance its interior space.
In the imagery, the image of Nossa Senhora Rainha do Mundo, from the 15th century, from the Church of Santiago, one of the oldest specimens in wood sculpture; the image of Nossa Senhora com o menino that also dates from the 15th century and technically would be the orago of the main altarpiece of the church during the post-medieval period.
Goldsmithery and Costume Design
Various pieces of silver and other metal jewellery and clothing, including vestments and other items of worship, are presented.
The silver gilt custody from the 18th century, a magnificent piece of goldsmithery; and two chalices, one from the 16th century, of white silver, carved at the base with the symbols of the Passion, and the other from the 17th century, of gilt silver.
About the vestments, we must point out the rich vestment of Santa Maria (chasuble and dalmatics) from the 16th century; the rainbow from the 18th century, from the same church; and the chasuble from the 18th century, made of green silk damask brocaded with gold, from the Church of Santiago.
Also to be mentioned are the missal stand and the black and gold lacquered wooden eucharistic vault, with mother-of-pearl applications, of Japanese Namban art, from the Momoyama-Edo period, 16th/17th century. There is also a 17th-century missal (an original specimen due to the profusion of illustrations) and a copy of the Synodal Constitutions of the Bishopric of the Algarve from 1672.