Quero ir aos museus pelos passos meus
Ao Antigo ao Moderno até ao céu
Contemporâneo extemporâneo Amadeo
O Extravagante de Amarante não morreu


Vamos lá todos ao museu ouvir a cor
Tocar o cheiro ler a tinta ser amor
Talvez assim um Amadeo ressuscitado
Nos pinte um século mais presente que o passado

Quero ir à exposição à extradição
Pedir desculpa ao Amadeo e porque não?
Dizer-lhe que hoje o que na escola mais se ensina
É como não consumir droga nem propina

Está na hora, Amadeo. Mas antes de ir
E como sei que eras danado para rir
Quando voltar vou trazer-te uma moldura
Com o retrato do país e da Cultura…”

(Fernando Tordo, Amadeu, 1997)

Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso in Manhufe.
Source: Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso estate from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Art Library collection.

We are lulled by these musicalized words that invite us to get to know the modernist painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and his works, a symbol of various artistic aspects, as the artist himself said: “I don’t follow any school, schools died, we, the new ones only look for originality, I am an impressionist, cubist, futurist, abstractionist, a bit of everything…”[1]

Amadeu Ferreira de Sousa Cardoso was born on November 14, 1887, in Manhufe, in the parish of Mancelos, municipality of Amarante, being one of the thirteen children of the couple José Emygdio de Sousa Cardoso and Emília Cândida Ferreira Cardoso (Damásio, 2018). Within a wealthy family of landowners, little Amadeo grew up surrounded by his parents, brothers, uncles and cousins who have always recognized his artistic and rebellious side.

It would be in Manhufe, where the family home is located, that Amadeo would develop his personality and his network of affections. He would always return to this sacred corner, even during the seasons he lived in Paris, with a burning need to feel his family and seek inspiration for his paintings. Manhufe would prove to be the best-preserved cocoon for an Amaranthian painter, being the emotional, affective, cultural and artistic catalyst for the production of a significant part of his work.

The experience of visiting and feeling the affective and artistic epicenter of one of the great modernist painters of the 20th century marks any traveler who is interested in the soul of places. This is a place that does not leave us indifferent and awakens in us a feeling of rediscovery of our family and affective roots, allowing a more intimate contact with the nature that is so characteristic and almost intact in this scenario.

Walking around the surroundings of Casa de Manhufe and immersing ourselves in Amadeo’s paintings in a natural way that reveals the five senses, we understand a little better the light of the various settings that the painter brought to his canvases in such a creative and irreverent way. We experience the pulse of the fields and the narrow, winding paths between the various buildings that make up Quinta de Manhufe. A territory that our host painter would have walked through, to find his inspiration there and represent it through various themes such as “the countryside and the mountains, hunting or popular motifs, maintaining a strong relationship with the tradition of the environments he frequented during the first years of life.” (Andrade, 2016, p. 24)

A Casa de Manhufe.
Wood oil. C. 1913.
Source: Private collection. Municipal Museum Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.

At the age of 19 (1906), Amadeo left for Paris, disembarking “on the Quai d’Orsay, on the bank of the Seine, where his fellow countryman Acácio Lino was waiting for him, who welcomed him and arranged accommodation (…)” (Damásio, 2018 , p.217). In the city of lights, the young man from Amarante arrived with the intention of studying architecture, but it would be in the French capital that he would make the decision to continue his activity as a draftsman and caricaturist, skills that, since he was a little boy, he showed an appetite.

It is in the Casa de Manhufe that we find “the first works, which a domestic tradition claims to have been born when Amadeo was only nine years old. There are two Pierrots, brothers of the Leal da Câmara, one of them hugging the huge tin of biscuits, the other balanced on a stool, trying to hammer on the keyboard of a piano.” (Cláudio, 2008, p. 14).

These caricatures are part of the set of first drawings by the modernist painter, it would be these lines that would accompany him throughout his career, along with other artistic currents (expressionism, abstractionism, cubism, futurism) that he explored and developed by the French ateliers together with other artists such as Eduardo Viana, Amedeo Modigliani, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Walter Pach, among others.

However, even though he was in contact with all the cultural and intellectual dynamism experienced at the time in France and in other European countries, Amadeo felt a constant longing for his mother house, Manhufe.

“And at the center of life the House was planted, with all the windows wide open to the wind rose, rooms filled with square tables from which the enormous tablecloths were never removed, oratories of mahogany in whose interior an eternal lamp supported a blue and yellow flame, minutely pulsing.” (Cláudio, 2008, p. 11)

Manhufe’s light, colors and atmosphere set Amadeo’s paintings apart from other artists who followed common artistic lines, giving him uniqueness and exceptional emotion.

Like the artist Amadeo, all of us are always looking for a place that makes us feel at home, a space where our senses are active and connect us with our memory(s). We are made of emotions and landscapes… As the painter said: “Art is an emotional product of Nature.”[2] 

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Andrade, I. (2016). A Casa Sonhada. Memórias Sobrepostas: um Pintor e uma Arquiteta. Porto: Edições João Sá da Costa.

Cláudio, M. (2008). Amadeo. LeYa, SA.

Damásio, L. (2018). Amadeo, Vida e Arte. Volume I. Município de Amarante.

Sofia Mesquita,

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