The reflection of a shared life with
the Portuguese people and the world
The elements of the museum collection of the House Museum Amália Rodrigues reflect the personal and eclectic taste of Amália, present in all the different divisions. More than a private collection, we are faced with the reflection of a shared life with the Portuguese people and the world.
Above all, we would not say that Amália was a collector, but that she liked her “knickknacks”, a term she used to describe the objects that surrounded her.
The fruits of her professional activity allow her, from the very beginning of her artistic career, to acquire things in the most renowned art houses and to live with the great and best artists, stylists, and prop people of the time.
In addition, Amália is always accompanied by simplicity and elegance that permit her to visit the antipodes: being the great diva of the world stages or the shy and reserved woman that lived in perfect union with the rural nature. Amália’s objects are the personification of her sensibility. In each dress, shoe, jewel, canvas, or ceramic we can learn something about her life and her career.
For several reasons, there is a “before” and an “after” Amália on what concerns the social status of fado. One of them is, without a doubt, the improvement of the fado singer's performance by the improvement of its image: with Amália, the fado singer becomes a cosmopolitan and sophisticated woman, who consolidated the respectability of a carefully constructed image.
In what comes to her dresses, Amália said: “Being nicely dressed, it is when we look in the mirror and we feel good. Even if it is old-fashioned. I go to the extremes. Either I am a person in very classic black dresses, either I am the opposite.”. We cannot deny that the black is attached to Amália’s figure. However, we must say that from the approximately 150 dresses that exist at the House Museum Amália Rodrigues, more than a third of this collection corresponds to coloured dresses with different and stylized ornaments and motives. During her career, Amália collaborated with a lot of Portuguese stylists, like Pinto de Campos, Ana Maravilhas and Teresa Mimoso. From the 70s on and until the end of Amália’s life, it is her personal dressmaker, Ilda Aleixo, that tailors her dresses, mostly idealized by Amália.
Amália loved shoes, and it is probably the only collection where we dare to call her a true collector. 219 pairs of shoes complete this collection where we can find the stage shoes, but especially the ones for formal events. Sergio Rossi, Prada, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, and Salvatore Ferragamo are some of the couture brands that we could find. However, the most interesting elements of this collection are the 17 pairs of stage shoes in which we see the intention of Amália in disguising her 1m58 of height. These shoes, made expressly for our Founder in Portugal, had between 15 to 17 cm.
From the beginning of her career, Amália was worried about the way she presented herself on stage, either when it came to a great world stage or to a fado house in Lisbon. This aesthetic care permitted her to gather an extraordinary collection of jewellery that completes, today, the collection of the Amália Rodrigues Foundation. In what concerns the jewellery, the brand image of Amália is the long and brilliant earrings that were visible from the back row of a spectacle room. Amália’s jewellery is mostly Portuguese work, except for some of them, like a necklace Cartier in white gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, of French origin. Bracelets, rings, necklaces, and earrings, made in gold, filigree, diamonds, and amethyst, that go back to the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, are some of the objects we can find on the House Museum.
A life dedicated to music and culture turned Amália into a heteronym of Portugal. Performing all over the world allowed Amália to be admired by different kinds of public and countries, being considered one of the great singers of the 20th century. For that reason, today, Amália is the most decorated Portuguese woman in history. Portugal, Spain, and France decorated her with the highest honorific orders, with Israel, Lebanon, Belgium, Brazil, Macau, and Japan following. We would like to highlight the Honour Legion of France (1991), the Great Cross of the Order of Isabel, the Catholic, in Spain (1990), the Great Cross of the Order of Infante D. Henrique in Portugal (1998), and the membership of the National Order of the Cedars of Lebanon attributed in 1971. Brazil decorated Amália posthumously with the Order of Cruzeiro do Sul (2001) and the Portuguese community in the United States of America and Canada assigned her, still in life, several honours for the service rendered to the Portuguese culture: for instance, the “Amália Rodrigues Day” in Toronto, in 1985, and the congratulation of the state of Rhode Island in 1970.
To Amália, what really mattered was the objects’ beauty and not its school or technique. By observing the decoration on the house, we realize the duality of Amália’s personality and taste. The porcelain of the Companhia das Índias combines perfectly with the religious figures and the Italian alabaster works of the 17th century. It is worth mentioning the original bust of Amália, by the sculptor Joaquim Valente, two red ducks of Murano, and the Last Supper in stone (made by Chica, an artisan, and friend of Amália). A 17th-century infant Jesus sits in the decoration of the house hall, along with a 19th-century gilded bronze clock and two bronze fruit-bearing feet (an 18th-century French work). In a house where we can find a sculpture by José Franco, we can also find a tapestry with an 18th-century hunting scene or a wooden piece painted with 19th-century orthodox motifs. Being the home of Amália, a Portuguese fado guitar with grenades, turquoise, and new mines of the 17th century, a Portuguese fado guitar, and a mandolin with inlays, both 19th century, and a half-tail Petrov piano could not be missing. The house, decorated according to the sensitivity of Amália, is a building prior to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, covered with blue tiles of the 17th and 18th centuries.
From prints to portraits, to landscapes, Amália’s house has a several art paintings. Pinto Coelho, Ribo, Van Boomen, Menez, Mário Cesariny, Cargaleiro, Jacinto Luís, Eduardo Malta, among many others, are some of the authors we can find at this house. It is also worth mentioning the portraits of Amália made by Pinto Coelho (1990), Maluda (1966), Pedro Leitão (1946), Eduardo Malta (1948), and Jacinto Luís (1980).
The sophistication and classic refinement of this house are also reflected in Amália’s furniture. We can highlight a Portuguese canapé in carved walnut and straw of the 3rd quarter of the 18th century, a Portuguese ark of the 17th century, and three walnut chairs carved, partially gilded, of the time of D. José (18th century). Two half-dressers in rosewood, made in Portugal in the 18th century, an Italian trumeau in gilded carving of the 18th century, a painted bed D. Maria of the 18th century, and a polychrome Portuguese oratory of the 17th century are just some examples of what we can find in the House Museum.