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On Portraiture  (Do tirar pelo natural)

On Portraiture (Do tirar pelo natural)


Published to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of celebrated Portuguese Renaissance court painter, architect and essayist Francisco de Holanda, On Portraiture brings back into circulation the earliest ever treatise dedicated to portraiture. This is the first published English translation. 


Francisco de Holanda (1517/18 – 1585) was a court painter, architect and essayist at the Lisbon court of John III of Portugal and Catherine of Austria. Son of the Netherlandish painter and miniaturist, António de Holanda (d. 1557), from whom he learned illuminaton and drawing, Francisco became an important figure in the Portuguese Renaissance. Sponsored by John III, Francisco visited Italy in 1538–1540, where he produced a volume of drawings documenting sights he saw there, including fortifications and antiquities, for his patron. In Rome he frequented the home of Vittoria Colonna, who introduced him to Parmigianino, Giambologna and Michelangelo. After his return, he re-entered court service, propagating the Italianate style in Portugal through his writings. In 1548 he completed a manuscript Da pintura antigua (Of Ancient Painting), which was the first treatise on painting written in Portugal. This was followed in 1549 by his illustrated ten dialogues Do tirar polo natural (On portraiture from life), added as an appendix to Da Pintura Antiga. 


On Portraiture is the first treatise dedicated to portraiture, first circulating at the Lisbon court as a manuscript before it publication in Madrid in 1563. This Spanish translation was undertaken by Holanda’s friend the Portuguese court painter Manuel Denis. However, this treatise has remained relatively unknown to modern scholars.


This volume, celebrating the 500th anniversary of Holanda’s birth, is edited by the late John Bury with Fernando António Baptista Pereira, Luisa Capucho Arruda and Annemarie Jordan Gschwend. An English translation of Holanda’s portrait treatise and a transcription of the Portuguese original is included, with commentaries and essays regarding Holanda’s output as portraitist and theorist at the Lisbon court until his death in 1585. 

  • Francisco de Holanda

    On Portraiture (Do tirar pelo natural)


    By Francisco de Holanda 


    Edited by John Bury with contributions by Fernando António Baptista Perreira, Luisa Arruda and Annemarie Jordan Gschwend


    November 2019

    Paperback, 270 x 195 mm

    128 pages, 40 illus.
    ISBN: 978-1-912168-11-8

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