The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga , located in Lisbon, is the most important art museum in Portugal and one of the most impressive in Europe. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is regarded as a temple of the arts containing Portugal’s most important art collection including furniture, ceramics, glass, sacred silver and gold art . The collection of European masters is also outstanding. The museum is also known as National Museum of Ancient Art and located in the Palacio de Alvor-Pombal, a former palace of the Count of Alvor, later purchased by the Marquis of Pombal.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga was founded in 1884 next to the Tagus river. It occupies the palace of the Count of Alvor, dating from the seventeenth century, and the old convent of Santo Alberto. The chapel of the convent is a fine example of 18th Portuguese Baroque art and architecture and is incorporated into the exhibits.
The museum collection includes painting, sculpture, metalwork, textiles, furniture, drawings, and other decorative art forms from the Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century. The collections, especially those for the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are particularly important regarding the history of Portuguese painting, sculpture, and metalwork.
Probably the most famous work kept in the museum are the Saint Vincent Panels, which date from before 1470 and are attributed to Nuno Gonçalves, court painter of King Afonso V. The six large panels show people from all levels of late medieval Portuguese society venerating Saint Vincent, in one of the first collective portraits in European art. There are sixty portraits on the panels.
The museum also has important works by early 16th century painters , and also paintings from the 17th through the early 19th centuries are well represented by Josefa de Óbidos, Bento Coelho da Silveira, Vieira Portuense Domingos Sequeira, and Morgado de Setubal.
Portuguese metalwork is another highlight of the museum. Among its collection are outstanding pieces from the 12th to the 18th centuries. One of the most notable examples is the famous monstrance of Belem. According to an inscription on the monstrance, it was made from some of the first gold brought back to Portugal from India by the famous explorer, Vasco da Gama.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga also include an European painting section represented by some of the most famous painters such as Jacob Adriaensz Backer , Bartolome Bermejo , Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Piero della Francesca, Jan Gossaert and many others.