CFT164 050617 001

Elegant pre & post war modernism, Art Deco & distinctively Lisbon Noir. See 1920s-40s Portugal through the eyes of the brothers Mario & Horácio Novais, architectural photographers from Lisbon.

Exterior of the News Center store.
Project by architect Leo Waegh. Photography, Mario Novais.

The brothers Horácio (1910-1988) and Mário Novais (1899-1967) were born into a Portuguese photography family. The brothers spent their lives based in Lisbon.

The Novais brothers were two of the most prolific national photographers of the 20th century They both spent over 50 years as photographers leaving us with images of great historical significance, documentary value and of beauty.

The brothers both produced imagery for the Secretariat of National Propaganda during the three deaced rule of Salazar, Portugal’s ultra conservative prime minister. Their photographs document the rampant surge of modernism that in the 1930s and 1940s swept across the country under the regime.

The pair had separate studios, both shot for magazines and did advertising work but their main forte was in architecture. They worked with the country’s very best architects, documented the very best in progressive new architecture and they did it superbly well.

The brothers captured a time of change, a country culturally shifting its gears, driving forward. Elegant pre & post war modernism, Lisbon Noir and Art Deco – themes stylistically symbolic of the national mood.

All images are from A Biblioteca de Arte da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, the Art Library of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The Novais archive was acquired in by the Foundation in 1985. An inspection of a couple of the boxes revealed that the huge trove of images – over 100,000 slides – were cellulose nitrate negatives. Very highly flammable. The incendiary boxes sat in a closed room in the archive for two years until, aware of the potential catastrophe that this quantity of material closed in a room without air conditioning could cause, in 1990 the Foundation began the process of treating and digitising the slides. 

UP Gallery (Art gallery, Bookstore, Typography, Decoration, Advertising, Tobacco shop). Rua Serpa Pinto nº 28-30, Lisbon. Project by the architect Jorge Segurado (1933), photography by Mario Novais.

Illuminated signs, Lisbon, Portugal. Photography, Horácio Novais.
Illuminated sign, Lisbon, Portugal. Photography, Horácio Novais.
Portugal Ford Lusitana facade. Corner of Rua Marquês de Subserra with Rua Castilho, Lisbon.
Architect, Pardal Monteiro (1930-1932). Photography, Mario Novais.
Jerónimo Martins & Filho Establishments, Portugal Industrial building.
Undated photograph by Horácio Novais.
Showcase of Sapataria São Carlos, Lisbon by Architect João Simões, (1908-1995). Photography, Mario Novais.
Areeiro Square, Lisbon. Architect, Luís Cristino da Silva. Photography, Mario Novais.
Areeiro Square, Lisbon. Architect, Luís Cristino da Silva. Photography, Mario Novais.
Model from Voga magazine in target practice pose, Lisbon, Portugal. 1920s. Photography, Mario Novais.
General Directorate of Hydraulic Services, Portugal Work carried out by the Hydraulic Services.
Undated photograph, Mário Novais.
Exterior of York Bar by architect Jorge Segurado (1898-1990). Photography, Mario Novais.
Building, project by architect Miguel Ventura Terra (1866-1919) on Rua Alexandre Herculano. Valmor Prize, 1903.
Photography, Mario Novais.
Interior of the Instituto Navarro de Paiva in Lisbon. Project by the architect Carlos Ramos (1897-1969).
Photography, Mario Novais.
The Century Store (2 pictures above). Praça D. Pedro IV in Lisbon. Project by the architect Jorge Segurado (1898-1990).
Photography, Mario Novais.
Residential architecture, unknown location. Photography, Mario Novais.
View of Rua D. João V. Laboratório Sanitas. Project by the architect Raul Rodrigues de Lima (1909-1979) (destroyed building). Photography, Mario Novais.
Cine-Theatre Tivoli, Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon by the architect Raul Lino. Partial view of the facade. Opened in 1924.
Architect Adelino Nunes (1903-1948) Parque Eduardo VII Industrial Exhibition. Pavilion of the Electro-Ceramic Company. Photography, Mario Novais.
Architect João Simões, 1908-1995 View of Rua do Ouro, corner with Rua da Conceição, Lisbon.
Undated photograph, Mario Novais.
Illuminated sign, Lisbon, Portugal. Photography, Horácio Novais.
Illuminated signs, Lisbon, Portugal Rossio (Square Dom Pedro IV). Photography, Horácio Novais.
House in Estoril (Av. General Carmona and Av. de Portugal).
Project by the architect Luís Cristino da Silva (1896-1976). Photography, Mario Novais.

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