Have you ever heard about the Martyrdom of Georgian Queen Ketevan?
I have – but only a few years ago when I went to our neighbour Convento da Graça to see The Procession of Corpus Christi exhibition. It wasn’t the 1587 clay miniatures that caught my interest.
What caught my eyes was the extremely beautiful, tiled panels that cover the huge convent hall’s long walls. Some of the most beautiful I’ve seen.
But what was more interesting: The tiled panels were the ones I have been looking for since I read about them in an Indian Newspaper ages ago. About a Catholic queen that got tortured to death because she refused to convert to Islam… a story that was described by Portuguese monks on tiled panels in details that are not for sensible souls.
These panels were all around me!!!
I forgot all about the mini sculptures and got soaked into the horror story that unrolled in front like an old fashioned cartoon. Only in man-sized beautiful blue tiles.
I had found them – they were on the walls that surrounded the miniatures miniatures!
The panels are amazing – or should I say: they are grotesquely amazing.
Not so much because of the very detailed scenery of all kinds of torture – after all it’s nothing compared to what our kids see on TV, online and computer games.
It’s the combination of the beauty of the tiled panels and especially the faceless (why?) killers that makes it cruel in ways we’re not used to and don’t expect to find on tiled church walls in one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches. And not in Graça Church – our neighbour since 2013.
I have seen the panels several times since my first visit many years ago. They are still fascinating.
And I still have a lot of unanswered questions… There are so many strange things about this panel!
First the secrecy about its existence here in Lisbon? Why are they not promoted as an attraction? Not even the Museu Nacional do Azulejo has information about them!!!
And why is it so difficult to find information about it online? You can get names, places, years, occasions – but who were the Monks who witnessed it all, why are the faces missing?
And why are the panels in Lisbon? Or rather why are they in Graça?
And how is it possible to make a full size replica and send it to a winery in Georgia without nobody knows? Even the smallest event finds it way to Facebook, so how and why so secret …
Yesterday one of our guests asked me about our opinion about the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.
I didn’t know what to answer. We usually don’t recommend it to people who visit Lisbon for the first time because there are so many other things and places we find more interesting.
I guess it’s worth a visit if you are interested in different tile traditions and techniques…. and the chapel is amazing – I answered.
Oh – you find it boring – the guest said and laughed.
I had to admit that – and at the same time – that I prefer all the beautiful tiled walls and panels we have all over town. And especially the relatively new Street-Art-Tiled-Walls that are popping up every where. Within 10 minutes from us we have works by Jorge Romão, AdFuel and lengendary Mr A.
But the best of them all is the fantastic Martyrdom of Georgian Queen Ketevan Panels. Unfortunately its so secret that they are impossible to get access to.
Will try to ask around and up-date this post with opening hours when/if I get them. If you know something – don’t hesitate to share.