5th October 2020

BNP: The Song of Songs exhibition

EXHIBITION | Oct 2 – Nov 30 ’20  

This exhibition, dedicated to the Song of Songs, aims to reconstruct the atmosphere and recreate the image of the famous biblical love poem.

The Song of Songs celebrated Old Testament love book, attributed to Solomon, dated by experts between the 13th and 7th centuries century BC (period of the flowering of the loving literature of Egypt), and in the written record between the century. VI and IV BC, of ​​extraordinary worldwide irradiation, collected the legacy of love poetry from the ancient East and has been inspiring all expressions of art, for several centuries, in literature, visual arts, dance, music and movie theatre.

The exhibition, which includes the most emblematic images dedicated to him in Portugal, is mostly composed of works from the 15th century to the present day, from the private collection of the poet Gonçalo Salvado, completed and enriched with others belonging to the collection of National Library itself and several national entities, either in terms of versions and translations, or in poetry, theatre and rehearsal, or in titles whose influence of this matrix text is well known.

The vast iconography, with privileged expression in Portugal, wherein the 17th and 18th centuries is a unique case in Europe, is represented in the painting by Bento Coelho da Silveira (Lisbon, 1617 – Lisbon, 1708); in the bronze sculpture Sulamite (1909) of the Third Duchess of Palmela, Maria Luísa de Sousa Holstein (1841-1909), awarded at the Salon de Paris (1884), in the woodcut by João Carlos Celestino Gomes (1899 – 1960), in the illustration of master Lima de Freitas (1927–1998), in the lithography of the sculptor José Rodrigues (1936 -2016), in the drawing of the sculptor João Cutileiro (1937) and in the painting of Emília Nadal (1938), the first Portuguese artist to dialogue with Cântico of Songs in the 20th century, among other works of equal importance and relevance. It is also represented, symbolically, with a copy of a panel painted by António Oliveira Bernardes, around 1710.

This exhibition represents an antechamber to the great research project on the Song of Songs in the Portuguese-speaking galaxy, developed over a decade by Gonçalo Salvado and art critic Maria João Fernandes.

No poem over time has aroused so much fascination and given rise to so many translations and interpretations as the Song of Songs, the most sublime and exalting of love poems.


National Library of Portugal

Cultural Activities Service

Campo Grande, 83

1749-081 Lisbon



Contact Information

Public Relations Service
Tel. 21 798 21 68

Fax 21 798 21 38


2nd – 6th 09h30 – 19h30

Sat. 9:30 am – 5:30 pm