In the 19th century, photography found itself at a crossroads between industry, science, business and art, representing one of the milestones that marked the entry of 19th-century culture into Modernity and having a profound effect on all the different forms of artistic and non-artistic representation that had existed until then.
After its public launch in France, in 1839, photography was immediately integrated into the scientific, artistic and commercial context of 19th-century Portuguese society, becoming a valuable legacy that brought together the most varied areas of knowledge and produced an innovative portrait of contemporary society and culture.
Through this visit to the photographic heritage produced in Portugal between the mid-1840s and 1900, we can see how this new visual culture was elaborated in our country, contributing to our understanding of a society that was caught in the throes of a profound transformation.
For the first time, this project presents a significant group of photographers and photographs originating from the most important public and private collections of the history of Portuguese photography, setting up a dialogue between the photographic collections of various public institutions whose mission it is to safeguard the Portuguese photographic heritage, and highlighting the urgent need for integrated approaches in our access to Portuguese photography, its study and dissemination.
Our understanding of the vastness and significance of these collections that, for the most part, have never been exhibited before, does not, however, end here. The importance of this event has led to its being divided into two exhibitions: this first one, presented at the MNAC-MC, in Lisbon; and a second one to be presented at the Galeria Municipal Almeida Garrett, in Porto, from 30 May to 16 August 2015, in partnership with the Municipal Council.
We wish to thank all of the public institutions and private collectors who have agreed to participate in this project, which we are sure will be a first and important contribution to a modern historiography of Portuguese photography.