Found: The Art Collection at Monte da Torre
We recently discovered the elegant, whitewashed villa Monte da Torre in Comporta, Portugal, and were struck by the treasure trove of art and photography that hangs on its walls. When we asked the home's owner Rita Sáragga Leal to tell us more about it, she explained that the works are part of a broader collection of Portuguese contemporary art that her family has been collecting since the 1970s, and that the particular emphasis at Monte da Torre is on post-war photography.
"The works shown at the property, some vintage proofs and others unedited before," she says, "provide the visitors with an anthological view of Portuguese avant-garde photographic production, mainly from the Forties to the Sixties."
The founders of modern Portuguese photography are all represented, and special reference is made to the book Lisboa Cidade Triste e Alegre ('Lisbon, A Sad and Cheerful City'). Published in 1959, it is considered the most important Portuguese photography book of the 20th century and features a collection of black-and-white portraits by architects Victor Palla and Costa Martins, who spent three years walking the city's streets documenting its people and buildings.
"Most of these photographs present a neo-realistic vision of a poor and mostly rural country, still suffering the devastating consequences of World War II," Rita tells us.
There are many other themes as well, from seascapes and abstract human figures to New York at the time of 9/11, the latter by acclaimed photographers Rita Barros, Clara Azevedo and Pepe Diniz. The New York views sit on either side of a vivid red contemporary set of paintings by Lisbon-based artist Pedro Calapez.
Rita chose photography as the main focus for the home was because, she says, it can be at once powerful and discreet, allowing the gallery and the vacation home to coexist comfortably. "Black and white photographs interfere less with the surrounding vibrant landscape," she explains, "which may be enjoyed throughout the house due to vast sliding glass doors."
There's much more to capture your attention here though, including the delightful white 'Queen Warrior' who greets guests as they enter the home. She is the work of the late sculptor Joao Cutileiro, renowned for his public art throughout Portugal, including some controversial female nudes.
The piece that really stood out for us, however, was the woman's portrait in the kitchen. A work by Lisbon-born artist Adriana Molder in India ink on tracing paper, it's an atmospheric, almost haunting image. Molder's work focuses on the human face, and she has a passion for the stage and movies, which lends her work a powerful cinematic feel.
Monte da Torre is more than a home. It's a gallery space which presents a unique opportunity for art lovers to understand more about Portugal's contemporary art world. To book a stay and discover the collection face to face, click here.