watchtower on the top floor is a prominent feature.
It is here that the celebrated tiles of hand drawn
baroque figurines are found: "Faith",
"Hope" and "Charity"
Museum of Sacred Art (Museu de Arte Sacra do
Funchal) is housed in the what used to be
the Old Episcopal Court of Funchal, in Rua do
Bispo (Bishop's Road). The museum was first
opened to the public in 1955.
museum building was edified over two significant periods:
in the sixteenth century - when the "São
Luis" or Saint Louis chapel was built along
with the balcony and arches that face the "Praça
do Município"; the second period -
during the reconstruction process in the eighteenth
century after the 1748 earthquake. Between
1942 and 1955 significant adaptations and changes
were made to the building's structure to accommodate
the new museum with its valuable cache of paintings,
sculptures and jewellery collected from
many of the churches and chapels of the local diocese.
of the pieces on display are from the sixteenth
through to the seventeenth centuries, including
Portuguese, Flemish, and Madeiran
is the paintings that attract most the attention of
visitors to the museum: for it is here that the art
enthusiast will be able to find one of the most complete
single collections of painted wooden boards of the
Flemish School of Art. How did such a wealth
of valuable Flemish works of art arrive in such a
short time on the distant shores of Madeira in the
sixteenth century? The answer lies in the immense
wealth created on the island from the sugar cane
production of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries.
Immense fortunes were made as sugar was a valuable
and much sought after commodity in Europe. The moneys
amassed by individuals and companies made it possible
for them to donate many of their purchased works of
art to the church. Alternatively, the Catholic church
received the financial contributions directly and
purchased or ordered the ecclesiastical works themselves.
great centres for the production of these remarkable
works of art included Bruges and Antwerp. However,
many important examples of works of art from other
centres of production are also on display: including
Lisbon and areas that now form part of Germany. The
Portuguese collection of art works includes the valuable
gold-plated silver processional cross donated
by King Manuel I of Portugal. They now stand
in great splendour for the general public to view
and enthuse over.