The reproduction of the Weale Album, a project conducted by the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, aims to make a piece that is hugely important in terms of history and art history accessible to members of the public who are interested in it, by presenting not only the text and all of the drawings that make up the Libro degli Abozzi de Disegni delle Commissioni che si fanno in Roma per Ordine della Corte – made in the Papal city thanks to the efforts of King John V’s last ambassador in Rome, Manuel Pereira de Sampaio (1691–1750) – but also a series of essays by renowned experts in this field.
The album, which is made up of 160 leaves, contains 101 drawings in ink and watercolour of the works of art made in Rome during the 1740s by order of the Magnanimous King, intended for the Patriarchal Basilica and the Chapel of St John the Baptist in the Church of São Roque. It made a number of journeys: from Rome to Lisbon, from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro (accompanying the royal family in 1807), and later to London and finally Paris, where it was found in the collections of the library of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. It came to be called the Weale Album because in the nineteenth-century it was owned by the English publisher
John Weale, who had several of its drawings published. Thus the SCML decided to issue a book (with a total of 328 pp. and 241 images) in which the reproduction of the album’s content would be complemented and expanded upon with essays by the project manager and editorial coordinator, Teresa Leonor Vale (PhD in Art History, lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Arts, Universidade de Lisboa), as well as Jennifer Montagu (Warburg Institute, University of London), Marie-Thérèse Mandroux França, António Filipe Pimentel (Universidade de Coimbra and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga) and the restoration experts Coralie Barbe and Laurence Caylux (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris).
These essays will inform the reader about the approach taken towards tackling the key issues surrounding a full understanding of the album, its scientific and scholarly importance, its extraordinary past, its place within the wider context of the Johannine commissions, the coverage of the Chapel of St John the Baptist within the album and preservation and restoration work that has enabled it to be reproduced.