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Duarte Darmas Exhibition – From the Reed Pen to the Drone

Duarte Darmas Exhibition – From the Reed Pen to the Drone Galeria de Exposições temporárias do Castelo de Mértola (Mértola Castle temporary Exhibition Gallery)
1 to 19 March 2023

The Duarte Darmas Exhibition – From the Reed Pen to the Drone, coordinated by Santiago Macias, establishes a comparison between what Duarte Darmas saw and what can be seen today. How? By using a drone, since the perspectives presented by the draughtsman are an ingenious invention. The exhibition translates into a graphic reading using 16 th -century drawings and current aerial photographs, and an explanatory form for each site, with details regarding the spaces recorded in greater detail.
The project covers the 20 sites along the Alentejo border (Alandroal, Alpalhão, Arronches, Assumar, Campo Maior, Castelo de Vide, Elvas, Juromenha, Mértola,
Monforte, Monsaraz, Montalvão, Moura, Mourão, Nisa, Noudar, Olivença, Ouguela, Serpa and Terena), and Duarte Darmas recorded 55 localities along the entire border.
In this context, the website , a film, a book and a travelling exhibition that we now present in Mértola, were developed.
The years 1509 and 1510 certainly marked the life of Duarte Darmas. Son of a court official, he stood out as a draughtsman at the service of King Manuel. Little is known of this servant of the monarch, born in Lisbon in 1465, son of Rui Lopes de Veiros, a squire to the Royal House. The known life of our author is almost limited to a reference to his activity as a draughtsman, with an emphasis on his work surveying fortifications and some information about his own property. The date and place of his death are unknown.
Duarte Darmas would earn a place in history thanks to this task, which was assigned to him by the king. The monarch commissioned him the task of registering his border fortresses, with a clear intent to make a political statement and mark territory. The survey included detailed data, with conditions, in rods and feet, of the towers and facing walls of the citadels. The draughtsman created a graphic document of great iconographic importance for dozens of border sites, while providing the kingdom’s military command with a piece of enormous strategic importance. (…).
Each place, “tirado do natural” (‘drawn in place’), was represented with three images (the exceptions relate to places that have no citadels, such as Assumar): two views (the “debuxos”), cinematographically in the field and against the field, and a plan of each citadel (the “prataforma”, or platform) were drawn. The two images were almost always taken from opposite angles, although many examples don’t follow this rule.
Duarte Darmas indicates the azimuths from which he made the drawings, but these data are only approximate. Three complete editions of this work have been made, widely spaced over time. João de Almeida’s, with very significant text amputations, was the first, in 1943- This was followed by those of Manuel da Silva Castelo Brancos in 1990 and of João José Alves Dias in 2015
(MACIAS, Santiago, Duarte Darmas: do calamo ao drone, Mértola, MultiCulti – Culturas do Mediterrâneo, 2021, pg. 5).
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