Inside the former Bishop’s palace next to the cathedral, the Museu de Grão Vasco is Viseu’s star attraction. It displays religious paintings and artefacts, including some beautiful Oriental porcelain and textiles, but the main draw here are the paintings by local boy Vasco Fernandes, better known as “The Great Vasco” (Grão Vasco), widely regarded as one of Portugal’s best painters . His earliest work on display here is the fourteen panels tracing the life of Christ (1501–06), which were commissioned for the altarpiece of Viseu cathedral – note the vivid Adoration of the Magi which topically presents Balthasar as a Brazilian-inspired Indian with feathered headdress (Brazil had been “discovered” by the Portuguese in 1500). His most famous work is St Peter on His Throne (1530–35) – the painting has a freestanding mounting that allows you to see how the original frame was dovetailed together. There are also many works created by Grão Vasco with collaborators, and several by Gaspar Vaz, mostly depicting the apostles.

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