For the first time the exhibition to be held at the Moscow Kremlin Museums refers to the history and culture of the Portuguese colonial empire of the 16th–18th centuries. It was the first colonial empire of the early modern period, playing a crucial role in world history. The Portuguese were the pioneers to change the previously existing communication system and to have the civilizations of Africa, South and East Asia so closely connected to Europe. As a result, the intersection of cultural traditions became a perfect ground for entirely new forms to emerge, where the legacy of the East and the West melted and acquired a totally different quality, creating fascinating works of art, unique for their impact.
More than two hundred artifacts from museums and private collections in Portugal, Russia and other countries will help to demonstrate, on the one hand, the magnificence of the Portuguese court, the traditions of Portuguese navigation, science and culture. On the other hand, they will present vivid evidence of mutual influence and cultural exchange between the metropolitan power and its dominions in India, China, Japan, Africa and Brazil.
The first section of the exhibition will feature history and unique culture of Portugal. This section will basically focus on the royal court, role of the church as well as naval power of Portugal, which enabled the creation of the colonial empire. Exhibits in this section include portraits and items which belonged to the rulers, military commanders, explorers, who played an important role in the history of the Portuguese colonial empire, ceremonial objects from palaces, jewellery, coins, liturgical objects, weapons and armour, documents, engravings, atlases, maps, navigation instruments and tools, manuscripts and books of the 16th–17th centuries.
The second section presents pieces created in different parts of the colonial empire under the influence of Portuguese and European culture, as well as exhibits illustrating history of the establishment and life of the Portuguese colonial empire. To a certain degree the large-scale missionary work resulted in the appearance of quite unusual, exotic items intended for church use. Of great interest are works of local art, which depict Europeans. The Age of Discovery witnessed the flooding of Europe with exotic natural materials and luxury goods made of them, becoming an indispensable attribute of European treasuries and first 'Cabinets of Curiosities' (Wunderkammer). Works with similar provenance, including masterpieces from the Treasury of Russian Tsars, will occupy a well deserved place in this section's display.
The catalogue consists of two sections describing the features of history and art of Portugal and its colonial possessions. The exhibits presented belong to the collections of the museums, archives, libraries and private collections from Lisbon, London, Madrid, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The first section 'Emergence of the Portuguese Maritime Empire' introduces European, mainly Portuguese works created in the late 15th - mid-18th century, evidences of significant historical events reflecting the main developmental milestones of Portuguese culture. Another section 'Encounter of Civilizations: Conquest, Mission, Dialogue of Cultures' includes artifacts principally made in different colonies of the empire under the impact and in collaboration with Portuguese and all-European culture. The catalogue is on sale at the exhibition hall of the Assumption Belfry, the museum shops opposite the Patriarch's Palace. Price: 2,000 RUB.
LORDS OF THE OCEAN
THE PORTUGUESE EMPIRE
OF THE 16TH-18TH CENTURIES
- In Search of India
- A Meeting of Civilisations. Portugal and Other Worlds
- Hat Case
- Poetic sailing directions of Ahmed Ibn Majid
- Nautilus Cup
- Standing Cup with Porcelain Bowl
- St Francis Xavier
- Ceremonial Armour of Prince Philip II
- News on culture with Vladislav Flyarkovsky. Moscow, 10.12.2017
- News on Culture. Moscow, 10.12.2017
- "Main Role." Elena Gagarina. Moscow, 7.12.2017
- Elena Gagarina about the exhibition 'Lords of the Ocean. Treasures of the Portuguese Empire of the 16th-18th centuries'
- Cultural events on 7 December 2017
- Installation of the Ceremonial Armour of Prince Philip II
- Exhibition Announcement
“I am so delighted that such an outstanding display opens in the very center of Russia – in the Kremlin. This is a mark of enormous Russia’s respect towards art of Portugal. Opening of the exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin Museums guarantees its success, it will be definitely visited by many guests, tourists and Muscovites. I am sure that this exhibition compiled with so much comprehension, feeling and high level of professionalism will become a grand event both for art and mutual understanding between our two countries”.
“Opening of the exhibition is extremely symbolic as it takes place on the eve of festive occasions to be held in the coming two years and dedicated to establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Portugal. Cooperation and friendly relations between our two countries last for several centuries and continue to flourish in very different spheres – economics, culture, art and scientific research.
This exhibition tells not only about creation of Portuguese maritime empire and its importance for the world history, but also certifies by facts the arrival of European culture in the most remote parts: Africa, India, China, Japan and Brazil. It gives evidence of international dialog of cultures that resulted in wonderful pieces of art now displayed in Russia for the first time”.
“This exhibition itself is a historic one, as for the first time in Russia it touches deep upon the theme of Portuguese navigation and the Portuguese Empire which formation became its result. It is symbolic that the show takes place at the Moscow Kremlin Museums, in the center of capital of the Russian Federation – the biggest country in the world that played key role in world history. The exhibition compiles items of different origin and assignment giving an opportunity to read various stories inside world history. They let us see an empire which aim was not to suppress other nations, but to find new allies and partners. This is a narration about different nations, cultures and countries, brought together by Portuguese language. Let me wish visitors of the Moscow Kremlin Museums enjoy the show and let their hearts leap like mine when I first saw these art pieces!”
“I do not know whether Henrique the Navigator who actually predetermined the marine fortune of Portugal thought that half millennium ahead the phrase ‘Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok’ would be pronounced. But probably he had a hunch, because the Portuguese gave very much to the world: first of all in navigation – navigation equipment that no one had before, and this fact considerably determined fortune of the Portuguese maritime empire. It should be noted that not only marine and scientific courage are common to the Portuguese, but diplomatic courage as well. The most valuable document displayed at the exhibition is the treaty of 1494, signed by Portugal and Spain, regarding the division of the world. It was a great time — the 16th-18th centuries, when maritime powers competed with each other. Russia was among them; it entered the ocean in the 18th century and made a firm claim about itself. This competition gave an opportunity to open the world for the people, to understand it in a way we know it now. It was the Age of Discovery: a person opened the world for himself and opened himself for the world. The exhibition ‘Lords of the Ocean’ is a great act of confidence. No matter what political situation is, no matter how much they talk about intricacy of relations between Europe and Russia, the very fact that Portugal brought to Moscow its rarities which are hardly exported—is an act of highest confidence between our countries”.
“Uncommonly beautiful exhibition ‘Lords of the Ocean’ is the first project of the cooperation program between the VTB Bank and the Moscow Kremlin Museums. I am sure that this cooperation will be very interesting and the exhibition itself will attract particular attention of the public”.
“This is a wonderful display. It is compiled very accurately. The project was conceived exactly as it was realized in the end. And it has nothing in common with any other exhibition held in the Kremlin and perhaps in Russia in general. I think it will be very interesting for visitors”.
“The exhibition impresses and enraptures. Let me thank the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Portuguese colleagues for this marvelous project. The exhibition is deep, extensive and versatile. Being a collector I am always interested in such expositions while they provide universal impression of culture, time and all directions of art in the country”.
“The exhibition is very strong regarding content of art objects, the number of participants and their rank impresses no less. However the exhibition demands a person to be prepared for it. An unprepared visitor will see only a set of beautiful items, but to estimate the idea and scale of this exposition one better read about the role of Portugal in world history, remind something he knew. Otherwise everything will split into separate, incoherent items – worse to be desired”.
“I am more or less aware of how these projects are realized. On the first sight it seems that a certain number of objects are delivered from somewhere and are exhibited in some venue. It seems very simple. And recently it became familiar to me how much effort, wildest tension and energy of so many people it costs. I know how many pains and aspiration, obstacle crossings, communications, customs, insurances, etc. are behind it. Especially it concerns such richest collections as the current Portuguese one. A person who thinks rationally and reasons soundly understands that a result of titanesque work cannot be scanty. That is the way I assert this exhibition - in highest degree immoderate, extremely spectacular and expensive. Besides there are objects that quite literally have a world value. For example this relates to the first treaty of world division signed in Spain in 1494. Just three yellowed pieces of paper with hardly readable text, but actually the first treaty between the two states about the division of dominance on the planet. It is highly important for people to understand such things”.