Saturday, August 7, 2010
Forgotten Master - Henrique Medina 1901 – 1988
Henrique Medina was born in the small Portuguese fishing village of Esposende, part of the same town that my father came from. I learned about him through family friends, who had a copy of his catalogue raisonne. I later found and visited the studio he built in Esposende where he spent the last years of his life.
Medina began his studies at age 13 at the Oporto School of Fine Arts, an institution that continued to teach the lessons of its 19th century academic origins. Having completed his studies by the age of 18, Medina moved on to Paris, studying under Carmon and Bernard. By 1929 he had painted the portraits of the Portuguese president Almirante Canto, Cardinal Manual Cerejeira and a number of society portraits in Lisbon and Porto. Later he worked in London and in Italy, where he painted Mussolini’s portrait in 1931. Medina spent World War II in the Americas: first Brazil, then Argentina and finally the US. He has left to the museums and collections of these countries a number of works. While in the US he befriended Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney and Mary Pickford among others. It was at this time he painted the portraits of Dorian Grey for the film of the same name and one of Greer Garson for the film “Mrs. Parkington”. Returning to Portugal in 1946, he continued his portrait career for dignitaries throughout Europe including a portrait of Pope John Paul II in 1982. With his personal work Medina was a painter of individuals, particularly characters from the Minho and Douro the country north of Oporto.
If you ever get a chance to visit northern Portugal, be sure to visit the Medina Museum next to the city hall in the city of Braga and his studio in the town of Esposende. You can also find his work in the Palacio da Bolsa in Oporto and in the Museu do Chiado in Lisbon. Click here for a YouTube video of his paintings of women.