Virgínia Lopes de Mendonça is known for her works of children's literature, usually illustrated by her brother, Vasco Lopes de Mendonça. Daughter of the playwright Henrique Lopes de Mendonça and Maria Amélia Lopes de Mendonça, the sister of Columbano, she gained considerable success from 1945 onwards with her short stories in children's magazines and novels for young girls, such as A Gaivota [The Seagull] and Quadros da vida [Tales of Life]. Her popular play Maria Migalha, displayed here, was staged at the National Theatre in 1936.
The iconic Columbano painting, from 1910, shows Virginia’s face illuminated by a magazine, possibly Serões, of which her father, HLM, was director, from 1907-1908. The light projected onto her face is crossed with shadows and the composition has the intimate nature of a living room. She was the favourite niece of Columbano, who praised her work in a letter, saying ‘it is among the best that I have seen in the genre’. M.A.S.