Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
Huddersfield, United Kingdom
November 23, 2011
From journal Things to Experience in Lisbon
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
January 2, 2010
The museum itself is located in a strangely appealing brutalist building which has ivy growing over its concrete. It's part of a pleasant garden complex in the north of Lisbon that also contains a modern art collection and the Gulbenkian Foundation’s performance space. Despite its relatively small size for a major museum, its scope is extremely broad, covering virtually the entire history of Eastern and Western Art alike, with strong representations of certain areas that were obviously Gulbenkian’s favorites. The first, and to my mind most impressive of these, are Egyptian statues, including a wonderfully crafted sculpture of a government bureaucrat that looks as if it could have made yesterday in terms of both its style and state of preservation. The nearby collection of Roman coins is quite interesting as well, as is the collection of Armenian art in a nod to Gulbenkian’s ancestral home (he was actual born in what is now Turkey).
I personally found the paintings in the collection less impressive than examples of applied art, although Rembrandt’s "Portrait of an Old Man and Pallas Athena" is one of the artistic highlights not just of the museum but of Lisbon as a whole. Among the paintings, the strong collections are the English art in Room 13 (featuring Thomas Gainsborough and J.M.W. Turner) and the French Impressionist painting in Room 15 which features minor works by Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas, as well as several Rodin Sculptures.
The applied art collection is quite extensive - one can easily understand how a wheeler and dealer like Gulbenkian (know as "Mr. Five Percent" for the commissions he took from deals he brokered) might have used some of the pieces at banquets that he hosted. There's also an extension collection of pieces by the Art Nouveau designer Rene Lalique, who was a personal friend of Gulbenkian's. Although I'm not especially interested in this period in general, I found these pieces to be one of its highlights. At the time of my visit they were further set off by a larger exhibition of art nouveau work in the temporary exhibition gallery.The museum is free from 10-2 on Sundays, as is the associated modern art collection, which I wouldn't particularly recommend unless you have a strong interest in 20th century Portuguese art. Both contain cafes and small museum shops, although strangely neither sells postcards of several of the museums' more famous pieces which I've referenced.
From journal Lisbon Revisited
July 23, 2009
From journal More Adventures in Lisbon
by Mandan Lynn
Smithwick, South Dakota
July 18, 2006
From journal Lisbon: More Than Just a Cow Parade
October 3, 2004
The Gulbenkian is a museum lover’s ideal - small enough to visit in three hours, but full of varied, priceless collections of masterworks by master artists and craftsmen. This is the MUST-SEE for museum-lovers in lovely Lisbon. What is so striking is the presence not of quantity, but quality of art and craftsmanship.
The first object I laid my eyes on, exhibit 1, Room 1, was a 4,000 B.C. Egyptian bowl that wowed me with its pure style and non-deteriorated state. You could use it today. The last objects I saw, in the basement, were the colorful, dazzling glassware and jewelry of Rene Lalique, who was Gulbenkian’s friend . In Room 5, there’s an exquisite Armenian jewel box; in Room 8, Rembrandt’s Portrait of an Old Man and Pallas Athene, and Rubens’ Portrait of Helene Fourment enthralled me.Then there’s Houdon’s shimmering sculpture, Diana, a breathtaking creation that Gulbenkian was fortunate to buy from Soviet owners who thought it was obscene and needed money.
Favorite rooms for me were Room 13, with its English collection of Gainsborough, Romney, Lawrence, and Turner masterworks, and Room 15, with its pristine works by Monet, Degas, Cassatt and Singer Sargent, as well as eloquent Rodin sculptures. That’s the effect of this museum; when you start to list your favorites, you find you are forgetting to mention another, and the list grows. Manet’s Boy Blowing Bubbles, was missing when we visited here, but, lo and behold, a few days later, we saw it in Madrid at the Prado, borrowed for that museum’s special Manet exhibition .
Gulbenkian spent his 86 years here on earth pursuing enormous wealth from brokering oil sales, so he could pursue acquiring the best in paintings, sculpture, furniture, rugs, tapestries, screens, and more from diverse ages and countries. In gratitude for Portugal giving him sanctuary as well as tax concessions (and a residence from which they evicted a Portuguese noble!) during World War Two, bachelor Gulbenkian bequeathed his enormous fortune to his adopted country.
Later I discovered that this user-friendly museum has a Centro Artistico Infantil, a FREE child-care center that is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm for ages 4 to 12. This boon for museum-going travelers with children has its entrance off nearby Rua Marques de Sa de Bandeira. Without a doubt, I consider the Gulbenkian a splendid museum that is a premier Lisbon sight.
From journal New Lisbon
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
May 23, 2004
This art collection is truly a gem and is considered one of the best in Europe. You start with Greco-Roman statues, then there is a large collection of gorgeous Persian carpets, ceramics and tiles, Turkish velvet covers and Chinese porcelain. The collection of European art starts with illuminated manuscripts, followed by Flemish tapestries and several porcelain Madonnas by della Robbia. A beautiful collection of European furniture mainly from the 18th century (in the style of Louis XV and XVI) includes Boulle calendar clock, bookcases and medal cabinets by Cressent. The collection of European paintings spans 5 centuries starting with 14th century triptychs and miniatures and through the beginning of the 20th century. There are well-displayed paintings by Weyden, Ghirlandaio, Carpaccio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, La Tour, Gainesborough, Fragonard, Guardi, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Monet and Cezanne. And of course there are breathtaking statues of Houdon’s Diana, Rodin’s Blessings and Carpeaux’s amazing Flora with white marble flowers looking so lifelike. But to me the most wonderful part was Gulbenkian’s collection of Lalique creations. Rene Lalique was a personal friend of Gulbenkian. The ultimate symbol of Art Nouveau – Lalique’s "Dragonfly" – which is on the cover of a lot of books on Art Nouveau - is here on display and draws everybody to itself like a magnet. You can see amazing brooches, necklaces, vases, combs and pendants with serpents or female faces or female figures or animal miniatures made out of semi-precious stones and surrounded by god leaf and diamonds. The Lalique collection is exquisite, you can spend hours in front of each item studying its details and still uncover something you didn’t notice before.
From journal Travels in Portugal - The Best of Lisbon - Part II
December 21, 2003
European art section is very rich. For example the Diana statue of Jean-Antonie Houdon is here. Products of some Flemish painters and 19th century 'paysage' painting as well as other French decorative arts are waiting in this museum to be admired by visitors.
From journal Lisbon
October 20, 2000
Calouste Gulbenkian, whom I (and apparently many others) had never heard of, is called 'Mr. 5 percent.' He negotiated deals between oil-producing states and big oil companies in the beginning of the 20th century, and got 5% of everything. Turned out to be a good deal for him, and he used much of his money to acquire beautiful things. Late in life, he moved to Portugal and left his art to a foundation he created, in exchange for a promise to build a museum to house it.
The museum is never crowded, though the cafeteria always is, and it remains my favorite place in all of Lisbon. It is not, however, typically Portuguese, nor is its art; it is cosmopolitan, and could be anywhere in the world. It is a great place to spend an afternoon, with lots of benches for resting and simply relaxing and enjoying the beautiful and peaceful surroundings.
From journal Lovely Lisbon