Photograph: Rui Salta,  © Museu de MarinhaPhotograph: Rui Salta,  © Museu de MarinhaPhotograph: Rui Salta,  © Museu de Marinha

Name of Object:

Royal Brigantine


Lisbon, Portugal

Holding Museum:

Maritime Museum



Type of object:

Royal Barge (for ceremonial display)


Naval constructor and project co-ordinator: Torquato José Clavina; artist: Manuel Vieira; interior design of cabin: Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho  (Unknown)

Period of activity:

18th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Naval construction in wood; gilded and painted wood

Place of production:

Lisbon, Portugal


L: 29,32 m / beam w: 3,98 m

Workshop / Movement:

Navy Arsenal


Portuguese Navy


Responsible for the construction and design, Torquato José Clavina was the foreman ship's carpenter at the Naval Arsenal, much admired for his skill and competence. The brigantine is a magnificent work in gilded wood, crafted by the artist Manuel Vieira, while on the broadside is a panel of zoomorphic elements over darkened gold. In the Queen Maria I style, the barge is painstakingly decorated with pinnacles, friezes, caryatides, flower-like ornaments and tile panels depicting vases of flowers in frames. On the posterior panel of the quarterdeck cabin, there is a painting of Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho, who was responsible for painting the sovereign's private cabin. The quarterdeck cabin stands out from all the others for its richness and beauty, notably for the framed Venetian mirrors. The lower poop panel has complex and beautiful ornamentation: Amphitrite and Neptune are represented in two bas-reliefs surrounded by gilded-wood floral borders.
On board were 78 paddlers with 40 oars, which made the barge glide through the water with the help of the boss and the bow oarsman. Throughout its history, the barge transported several monarchs and heads of state.
With the first French invasion of November of 1807, the barge was assigned to take Queen Maria I and the rest of the royal family to the Príncipe Real, the ship on which they would escape to Brazil. Likewise, it was from this galley that King João VI disembarked in Lisbon following this turbulent period.
Later, on his first State visit in 1903, King Edward VII of England chose his oldest ally: Portugal. The Royal Brigantine headed for the British ship HMS Victoria and Albert to receive the monarch. This visit was followed by series of other State visits, amongst which were the visits of Kaiser William II of Germany, Émille Loubet, President of the Republic of France, and King Albert I of Belgium. The brigantine was always present.
During the Republic, the brigantine was neglected and did not glide over the river for 40 years. In 1957, on the occasion of the official visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the barge crossed the waters of the Tagus for the last time.
In 1963 it became part of the collection of the Museu de Marinha (Naval Museum) where it underwent restoration. The quality of the restoration saw the museum receive several honourable distinctions including that given by the World Ship Trust.

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Current Owner:

Museu de Marinha

Original Owner:

Portuguese Royal Household

How date and origin were established:

Technical and historical royal documentation in the Portuguese Naval Archives.

How Object was obtained:

In 1963 the Royal Brigantine and other royal barges were taken to the Naval Museum by order of the Naval Ministry of the time.

Selected bibliography:

Cutileiro, A., As Galeotas Reais, Lisbon, 1998.
Silva, G. C., “A última missão do Bergantim Real”, Revista da Armada, Nos. 405 and 406 de Fevereiro e Março, 2007.

Citation of this web page:

Bruno Gonçalves Neves "Royal Brigantine" in Discover Baroque Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;BAR;pt;Mus11_A;43;en&id=communication_and_transportation

Prepared by: Bruno Gonçalves Neves
Translation by: Lili Cavalheiro, Cristina CorreiaCristina Correia

SURNAME: Correia
NAME: Cristina

AFFILIATION: Eça de Queirós Public High School, Lisbon and MWNF

TITLE: Senior Teacher, Local Co-ordinator and Vice-President of MWNF

Cristina Correia is a History graduate and, since 1985, a Senior Teacher of History at the Eça de Queirós Public High School, Lisbon where she also lectures in Portuguese Language and Culture for non-native speakers. From 1987 to 1998 she was involved with youth affairs, primary prevention and the Camões Institute. She is Vice-President and Local Co-ordinator (Portugal) for MWNF.

Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PT 46