However, the overall orientation can be discerned in the choices made in keeping with the great collections of Portuguese decorative arts during that period, in which a nucleus of Portuguese furniture, complemented by some Indo-Portuguese pieces, was joined by some fine examples of foreign furniture, represented at the Museu do Caramulo by two French chairs (cat. 290). Drained of many of its best pieces in the first decades of the 20th century through their acquisition by European and American antique dealers, it was in the 1950s that Portuguese furniture first gained the attention of the great national collectors, amongst them Abel de Lacerda himself. Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva, Medeiros e Almeida, Ernesto Vilhena and Anastácio Gonçalves were leading Portuguese collectors in the first half of the 20th century, and it is not by chance that these names were linked to the institution presided over by Abel de Lacerda, appearing both as members of the board of management and as donors. They were united not only by their fondness for the decorative arts, but also by their plans for placing their collections at the disposal of the public.
In this way, the chest presumably originating from the Azores (cat. 288), which is chronologically the first piece in the collection, is to be found associated with a trunk that has an identical origin (cat. 289). These are followed by three examples of the traditional Portuguese leather chair from the 17th century (cat. 279, cat. 280 and cat. 281), a piece of furniture that marked the national production throughout the century. Also exhibited is a cupboard-oratory (cat 283), whose exterior corresponds to that of traditional cupboards; seen inside, however, are the paintings on the doors depicting St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, the Virgin kneeling, the Annunciation and St. Jerome, naïve paintings from the late 17th century, which certainly accompany a Calvary placed in the centre, for the background represents the city of Jerusalem surmounted by a mystical light. A sacristy bench (cat. 287) reveals itself to be a piece that is difficult to classify because of the nature of its particular work, which displays a regional style. Here, the decorative baroque motifs, combined with later models, fill three seats that themselves follow a somewhat archaistic model, as well as an identical-looking baldachin above them.
Another piece produced in a regional workshop is an 18th-century armchair (cat. 282), similar to many chairs said to be have belonged to the head of the institution, such as those that are still to be found today in some of the country’s Misericórdias (charitable institutions). In its structure, this one includes carved features taken from other pieces, which are probably the result of 19th-century restoration work.
Also from the 18th century are a commode (cat. 286) and a card table (cat. 285), made in keeping with French and English models respectively. In these pieces, the traditional fondness of our furniture makers for the use of solid blocks of strong wood, namely Brazilian rosewood and walnut, is replaced by structures made from such woods as redwood, oak and pine, covered with a veneer Brazilian rosewood, tulipwood and other exotic woods, as happened in the French and English models that they reproduce.