Aesthetic Analysis

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justice (1962), antónio duarte

Artist: António Duarte (1912-1998)

Technique: Bronze

Dimensions: aprox. 2 meters in height

Year: 1962

Location of creation:

Current Location: Palácio da Justiça do Funchal, Rua do Marquês

do Funchal, Portugal

Movements: Portuguese Modern Art

Theme: Allegory of Justice


Artist: António Duarte (Caldas da Rainha, 1912-1998)

General Notes: One of the most important sculptors in his generation; helped define the aesthetic scenery of Portuguese sculpture since the 1930s; had a profound influence on the Portuguese sculptures that followed.

Contextual Notes: Modern Art in Portugal, marked by discontinuities, it led to the emigration of many artists to Paris (the artistic center of the world at the time). This led to an explosion of creativity in Portuguese art, influenced by all the greatest artists of the time. Composed by 3 generations of artists, António Duarte emerges in the second, where the beginnings of the dictatorship were beginning to unravel. This resulted in the abandonment of Impressionist and Expressionist influences (too visually stimulating), and in the embrace of the nationalist sober ideals and aesthetic. By the time this work was made, this regime was coming to an end.

Objectives/goals: the artist was a propeller of the modernist paradigm in Portugal, sustaining the simplification and depuration of form as a means of echoing a new time (striping down all of the rhythm and dynamism of the French art scene, and following the somber tone of the regime).

general description

A stylized and abstract bronze statue of a lady with her left arm stretch at the sky, and holding a sword down with her right hand; located in front of a court, inaugurated in 1962, it is a sculptural reference in the city of Funchal.

An allegorical representation of Justice and the institution it represents, in the form of Lady Justice.

Commissioned to finalize the design of the new building (1946-60 designed by the architect Januário Godinho de Almeida.


Emotions of Austerity: a stern and mechanical figure that imposes austerity, authority and respect;

Monumentality: centralized at the front the building, the sculpture grants a quality of monumentality to the overall façade; it’s also in aesthetic articulation with the fountain down below (extending the whole group – architecture, sculpture and fountain – from the base floor of the street, to a second floor of the entry at the level of the work, to the top of the massive volume of the building) – very characteristic of the New State dictatorship.

Link between the Visual and Symbolism: representative of the harsh volumetry, sense of authority and monumentality linked between the visual (architecture and sculpture) and the power of the judicial system, 

Allegory of Justice: the artist chose to use the most common allegorical idea for court and legal institutions, the form of Lady Justice; it is the universal allegory for the message of Justice, embodying the moral force of the institution; she is usually represented blindfolded, with a beam balance and a sword; the allegory originated from Ancient Roman art where she was known as Iustitia and from the Greek goddess Dike (goddess of Justice and the spirit of moral order).

Symbol of the Sword: the sword acts as a universal symbol of authority, representing how swift and final justice can be – also a symbol that usually accompanies Lady Justice.

The Symbol of the Colour Gold: acting as a symbol of universal power; its somber and traditional use by governments of any kind, add to the principals of the power the regime wanted to assert themselves as; the colour is also associated with the masculine, something that echoes from the fascist regime on the the art scene and this particular work.

Raised Arm to the Sky: besides posing a link of the symbolism of justice between the sculpture and the architecture, it also has the underlying message connected to God, and the heavy presence of Catholicism in the dictatorship regime.

Metaphors and The absence of the Scales and Blinds: the artist chose to represent Lady Justice devoid of two of her usual symbols, the scales and blinded; it is unclear if this was intentional or not, however it is curious to speculate that metaphorically, maybe Justice doesn’t have to be blind at all, and that her ruling power lies in her strength and not in maintaining a balance between two opposing elements (scales).

Aesthetic formality: more formal aspects (silk volumetry and visual simplicity), in a more abstract direction; 

Curved Volume and Forms: creation of a sinuous volume and very simple/geometrized shapes, detached from previous more complex approaches to form (i.e. classical approach).

Composition: sense of frontality in the mass of the static composition and structure of the work.

Stylization of Form and Abstraction: stylized shapes reduced to the essential (as was typical of modern tendencies for the time) – heavy art deco influence on the nationalist architecture and sculpture of the regime.

Modernist approach to development of form: modernism sculptural form followed a traditional academic process, despite their overall ‘rebellion’ in aesthetics and formal aspects; based on the development of loose hand-drawn sketches, usually in pencil and sketching paper. 

Sculpture and the Monument: echo of the Salazar’s official statuary – static and frontal composition, sense of mass and monumentality.

Artistic/Aesthetic Innovation: the artists abstract and stylizing tendencies of the nude figure in the 50s and 60s was greatly ahead of his contemporaries; huge impact on upcoming artists of the time, helped define Modernism sculpture in Portugal.

significant images

nearby works

Artist: Francisco Franco
Title: Madonna and Child with Four Cherubs
Date: 1919-1923
Medium: Bronze
Size: unknown
Location: City Hall, Rua do Padre Gonçalves da Câmara, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Architect: Pêro Anes / Gil Enes
Title: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption
Location: Funchal, Madeira Island
Beginning of Construction: 1493
Concluded: 1514
Movements: Manueline Architecture
Commissioned By: D Manuel I
Function: Religious Architecture