I've been reading about eighteenth-century Portugal in This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, by Mark Molesky. More about the book after the weekend, but I wanted to share this enticing description of the royal library:
During Joao V's reign, entire manuscript collections were purchased in France and England, and many works were sent by the authors themselves. In addition to priceless documents pertaining to the history of Portugal and illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages (such as French King Francis I's Book of Hours and a history of the Jewish Wars by Flavius Josephus), there was an early Bible printed in Mainz in 1462, all 120 volumes of the Atlas Boendermaker, the first printed edition of Giovanni Balbi de Genoa's Catholicon (a Latin dictionary), in addition to etchings by Rembrandt and Rubens, and prints after Michelangelo, Titian, and Rafael. One two-volume book contained 1,439 etchings by the fearless chronicler of the Thirty Years War, Jacques Callot. In order to provide the king with a comprehensive overview of European art, prints and engravings were acquired by the thousands. Bound in volumes of red morocco and stamped in gold with Dom Joao's coat of arms, the print collection became one of the central focuses of the library and was considered one of the foremost treasures of Europe.I'll blog more about the fate of the library later (though it can be inferred from the title of the book).
Similar attention was given to decoration. The walls were covered with oil paintings by Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Jan Breughel de Velours, Paul Bril, Rubens, Luca Giordano, Filippo Lauri, David Teniers the Elder, and Francesco Albani. To provide illumination, gargantuan candelabras with yellow candles were statioined throughout. There were giant terrestrial and celestial globes, rare clocks, an armillary sphere, pendulums to determine longitude, as well as an assortment of telescopes and other state-of-the-art astronomical and mathematical devices...
Image: "John V of Portugal Pompeo Batoni" Attributed to Pompeo Batoni - Own work, 2011-07-19. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.