Sarah Affonso

Sarah Affonso, the art name used by Sara Sancha Afonso, (1899–1983) was a Portuguese artist and illustrator who was brought up in the Minho Region in the north of the country. Adopting a modernist style, she painted scenes of rural life in her childhood province and portraits of peasant women. Although she exhibited in Paris in the late 1920s, her most important paintings date from the 1930s. She was largely forgotten until her work was presented in 2019 at Lisbon's Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.[1][2][3]

Sara and Almada Negreiros in Moledo Beach, 1 September 1934


Born in Lisbon on 13 May 1899, Sara Sancha Afonso spent her childhood in a modest home in Viana do Castelo in the north-west of Portugal where she attended the Colégio de Nossa Senhora de Monserrate. On returning to Lisbon with her parents in 1915, she studied at the Fine Arts School under Columbano Pinheiro, graduating in 1922.[2][4]

In 1924, she spent eight months in Paris attending lectures at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She was particularly impressed by a exhibition of works by Matisse, as can be seen from her 1924 paintings As Meninas and Anemones in Lisbon's Museu do Chiado.[2][1]

She participated in the SNBA's Autumn Exhibitions in 1925 and 1926 while working as an illustrator of children's books and for the press. Above all, she devoted her time to embroidery and knitting. After a well-received solo exhibition at the Salon Bobonne in 1928, she returned to Paris where she earned a living sewing clothes. She returned to Lisbon in 1929, where over the next few years she presented works in several collective exhibitions, receiving reasonably positive reviews.[4]

In September 1933, she returned to her father's village in the Minho region where she was inspired by scenes reminiscent of her childhood years. She is remembered in particular for her works from this period which depict peasant girls, cattle and green hills as well as women nursing or working in the fields.[1]

On 31 March 1934, she married the painter José de Almada Negreiros with whom she had two children. After continuing painting scenes from Minho in the early years of her marriage, she spent most of her time raising a family. In the late 1950s, she returned to book illustration.[2][4]

In June 1982, President António Ramalho Eanes honoured her with the Order of Saint James of the Sword. She died in Lisbon on 14 December 1983.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Ford, Lauren Moya (12 September 2019). "A forgotten Portuguese modernist finally has her moment". Apollo. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Cronologia de Sarah Affonso". Modernismo (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 14 May 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Sarah Affonso and Folk Art from the Minho". Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. July 1999. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Verheij, Gerbert (July 2012). "Sarah Affonso" (in Portuguese). Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2020.

External linksEdit