Art: Portuguese Primitives

For a little more than a century and a half (from 1415 to 1581) little Portugal was one of the most aggressive and wealthiest countries in Europe. Egged on by the tough little kings of the House of Aviz, her explorers (Pedro Alvares Cabral, Tristao da Cunha, Alfonso de Albuquerque, Vasco da Gama, Lourengo de Almeida, et al.) ranged the seas from Greenland to Japan, netted an empire second only to Spain's. Like most nouveau riche nations, 15th-Century Portugal then began to take an interest in art. She carefully coddled a school of Portuguese painters, began a Portuguese Renaissance. Then, in...

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