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Gulbenkian dedicates an exhibition to Eça de Queirós

An exhibition commemorating the 130th anniversary of the publication of the novel ‘The Maias’, which shows for the first time pieces of the personal collection of Eça de Queirós, will be open to the public in the Gulbenkian, in Lisbon, from the 30th.

‘The Mayas’ will be the central axis of the exhibition’ Everything I have in the bag. Eca and The Mayas’, but around it will gravitate other works of the author, between chronicles, novels, short stories and many letters.

Photographs, paintings, caricatures, engraving, the music of the time, excerpts of films and objects of the writer’s personal belongings will also be shown, kept in Casa de Tormes (property of the Eça de Queiroz Foundation), never shown before in Lisbon.

Among the personal pieces of Eça de Queirós, which can now be seen by the public, are the writer’s personal secretary, brass inkwell, lighting canopy, swivel shelf and Chinese caba (wide-sleeved clothing worn in China), which was offered by the Count of Arnoso.

The exhibition also features works by Paula Rego, Júlio Pomar, João Abel Manta, Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro, Raquel Roque Gameiro, Bernardo Marques, Manoel de Oliveira, João Botelho, among others, alluding to the author and his work.

Organized in collaboration with the Eça de Queiroz Foundation, the exhibition is divided into seven nuclei, the first of which – ‘1888 – A Vasta máquina!’ – refers to the novel ‘The Mayas’, this ‘vaste machine’ (vast machine) ‘with dull monumental proportions of fresh painting, all worked in brown tones, pompous and vain’, as described by Eça de Queirós.

The novel was completed in 1881, but it was not until 1888 that it was published under the name ‘The Mayans. Episodes of Romantic Life’, having been badly accepted by the critics and the public, which left little room for the five thousand copies put up for sale.

It was not until the twentieth century, after the author’s death, that “Os Maias” was recognized as the masterpiece of Eça de Queirós, and as a classic of Portuguese-language literature.

The second nucleus goes through the life and learning of the writer before ‘Os Maias’, from the time he passed through the University of Coimbra, to the tourist trip through the East, to his stays in Lisbon – fundamental in his literary and ideological formation – for his journalistic experience in Évora, or as an official in Leiria.

‘War on Romanticism’ is the motto for the third nucleus, in which it is exposed how the author, educated in the cult of romanticism, converts to realism, giving him body, in ‘The Mayas’, through the character of Alencar, poet of romantic values, which becomes the target of all the irony of Eça.

In the fourth nucleus are exposed some of the paintings that Paula Rego did for a series dedicated to ‘The Crime of Padre Amaro’, and a reflection on Eça de Queirós – author of the homonymous novel that inspired the paintings -, that reclaimed the character moralizing of realism and whose books were accused of being immoral.

‘Crossed eyes’ is the fifth nucleus of the exhibition, and explores how Eça fled from the objectivity that realism seeks to expose several glances about the same reality: irony, dream, caricature and excess, personified by João da Ega, identified as an alter-ego of the writer himself.

The author’s permanent quest for perfection in art, which led him to proclaim “art is everything – everything else is nothing”, and which is also reflected in the “dandy” toilets of many of its characters, is a motto for the penultimate nucleus of the show.

The last space runs through the biographical and fictional geography of Eça de Queirós, from North America to the Middle East, from the Douro to the Alentejo, but it is clear that Portugal was the place that was in her heart and in the centre of her preoccupations.

The exhibition gained its name from a letter that Eça de Queirós wrote to his friend Ramalho Ortigão, when the novel ‘Os Maias’ was almost finished, in which he told how he decided to do it: “not only a ‘novel’ but a novel in which I put all that I have in the bag. ”

Taking on the motto, 130 years after the publication of this novel, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation decided to show “everything Eca had in the bag”, in an exhibition that will be open until February 18, 2019, and that will also count on a wide parallel programming, that goes from the cinema to conversations and the dinners queirosianos, among other initiatives.

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