Banquets at the Portuguese Court
in the 16th and 17th centuries: Space,
Place and Tradition
The representation of meals and banquets in Portuguese painting from the Renaissance to the early modern period is almost exclusively linked to religious imagery that features meals as rites associated with the Eucharist and Biblical texts. The food that appears in paintings by Gregório Lopes, Francisco Henriques,Vasco Fernandes (Grau Vasco), Josefa d’Ayala, (Josefa de Óbidos) is symbolic. What the royal family and the upper classes ate, how they were served, and food preparation appropriate for a banquet was left to the written work of the cook who served nobility and presented banquets in the royal household. Domingo Rodrigues, whose Arte de Cozinha of 1690, was the frst cookbook to be published in Portugal, should be read along with the paintings as a guide that confrms the formality and symbolic presentation of royal meals. His work, practical in its details, gives us a view of the specifcs of the court banquet in Portugal of the time and is in direct contrast to paintings of the same period.