HISTORY: Chronology


Born on 17 July in Lisbon (Rua da Sociedade Farmacêutica).


Attended Colégio Moderno, in Coimbra.


Since he was 11, Santos Simões accompanied his father – José Rodrigues Simões, Treasurer of the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists – on his visits to Carmo Museum and participated in several of the association’s field trips, “during which he displayed an unusual eagerness to learn”.


Attended Escola Académica, in Lisbon.


Attended the evening Drawing course of the National Society of Fine Arts (Lisbon).


Cinema became a passion for Santos Simões. He subscribed to French film magazines and knew the main actors and directors of the period, the great producers and the latest technical innovations.

1925 - 1926

Enrolled in the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon, which he left after the 2nd year to take up his first job, at the Cetacean Fishing Company (Tróia).


Travelled to England and enrolled in Manchester’s College of Technology, with the aim of attending a technical internship in textile factories and thereby getting ready to take over the management of a spinning mill in Tomar.

1926 - 1928

Still in England, he attended Oldham’s Municipal School.


Studied in France, where he obtained a degree in Textile Engineering at the École Supérieure de Filature et Tissage de Mulhouse. In order to specialize in the technical component of the cotton industry, he enrolled in internships in Germany (Zittau, Chemnitz, Dresden, Cologne), Czechoslovakia (Liberec) and, once again, England.

During his holidays, spent abroad, he travelled across most of Europe (Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands).


Travelled to Italy.


Returned to Portugal, married Fernanda Neves and took up residence in Tomar, next to the city’s spinning mill, where he became technical manager and went on to work for 25 years.


Co-founded Portugal’s Ski Club, in Serra da Estrela, which promoted the construction of the country’s first ski slope, in Piornos.


New trip to Italy.


Travelled, in August, to the United States, where he visited the editorial office and the printing house of the newspaper A Luta. He also visited local factories in Nashawena and Kendall, the Textile School of New Bedford and cotton mills in New England and the state of Georgia. 


Took an interest in camping, introduced rigid caravans in Portugal and became the owner of a caravan which he named Casal Vadio.


Published his first written work in the field of Art History, with Instituto de Coimbra, on the subject of Sansovino in Portugal.

Travelled to Spain, in August, to conduct research on tile decorations.


Published Tomar e a sua Judiaria [Tomar and its Jewish Quarter].

His love of study and “novelty” lead him to his research on azulejos

Published his first work on azulejos: "Alguns Azulejos de Évora" [A Few Azulejos in Évora], in the journal A Cidade de Évora.

Appointed, in March, Head Curator of the Abraão Zacuto Portuguese-Hebrew Museum, in Tomar, whose renovation works he directed.

Appointed superintendent of the Convent of Christ and other monuments in the municipality of Tomar.


Internships at the Valencia de Don Juan Institute and the Archaeology Museum, both in Madrid. Admitted as a trainee in the Ruiz de Luna factory, in Talavera de la Reina, where he acquired practical knowledge concerning the technical procedures associated with azulejo coverings.

What I know about azulejos is, for the time being, only the fruit of the observation of a few hundred items I have been aiming to organize on a chronological and artistic basis. Aided by the scientific literature, which is scarce and confusing, and by a comparative analysis, I have succeeded in shedding light on the historical-artistic issue of Portuguese tiles. However, I have a long way to go before I can accept being called a “master”…

I haven’t really begun the documental part of my research and there is a lot to investigate, in this domain, on which I want to base my historical conclusions. Additionally, I have yet to acquire certain insights of a purely technical nature, which are essential, and all of this will take time.

Participated, in October, in the Congress for the Advancement of the Sciences, in Cordoba, with a text on Archaic tiles in Portugal [“Azulejos arcaicos em Portugal”].

Published a study on Beja’s Azulejos ["Azulejos de Beja"] in the journal Arquivo de Beja.

1944 - 1945

Invited to collaborate with the Museum of Ancient Art’s Study Centre for the Arts and Museology, where he studied the museum’s azulejos and presented papers on tile decorations. He also set up, in his house, in Tomar, a small laboratory to examine pastes and enamels.

Published “Antwerpe tegels van omstrecks 1558 in Portugal” in Antwerpens Koninklike Oudheidkundige Kring.


Presented the paper Portugal’s Archaic Tiles [Azulejos Arcaicos de Portugal] to the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists, on 3 May.

Published Os azulejos do Paço de Vila Viçosa [The azulejos of the Palace of Vila Viçosa], with the House of Braganza Foundation.

Travelled, in August, to Spain (Albuquerque, Badajoz, Olivenza), where he conducted research on ceramics and delivered a lecture in Badajoz.

Having renewed my international relations, I have been maintaining a highly interesting correspondence with foreign researchers, especially in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and England…

Stayed in Bacalhôa, in September, where Mrs Scoville showed him the remnants of Valencian tiles found in the estate.


On the chapter of sea voyages… the gold mine has shrunk… I have only identified the azulejos of the [Convent of the] Mother of God as Dutch, and I’ve been finding others with the same provenance, but less interesting. I’ve contacted almost all the foreign researchers working on ceramics and have kept a constant correspondence, of the utmost interest. (January)

Presented a paper on 5 February to the History Section of the Association of Portuguese Archaeologists, entitled Inscrições Estilográficas na Batalha [Stylographic Engravings in Batalha].

Published “Maioliche fiamminghe e spagnole in Portogallo” in Faenza – Bolletino del Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche.

Spring trip, between May and July, to the Netherlands, Switzerland, England and Belgium, as a scholarship holder of the Institute for High Culture. During the trip, I sought to conduct an objective and documental study of issues linked to ceramics in general, and decorative ceramics in particular. At the Victoria and Albert and British Museums, especially, I focused on oriental tiles – Persia, India, Asia Minor, etc. – and took a special interest in Italian majolica (…). In Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Leuven I probed the mysteries of primitive Flemish ceramics, and in the Netherlands – Amsterdam, Delft, Haarlem and Rotterdam – I studied Dutch tiles, which I have always deemed essential to understanding their Portuguese counterparts. Although I do not pretend to have solved all the issues, and am well aware of the large amount of work that still lies ahead, I nonetheless return from this most fruitful of trips, which lasted almost two years, with precious work elements that greatly helped consolidate my meagre knowledge.  

Attended, from 23 to 31 May, a course for museum curators in Leicester – Demonstration Course on Museum Technique – and presented a paper to the Societé Royale d´Archéologie, in Brussels, on 8 June.

Delivered lectures on azulejos in Portugal at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam, and the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, in Brussels.

Received the José de Figueiredo Prize for the work Os Azulejos do Paço de Vila Viçosa [The Azulejos of the Palace of Vila Viçosa].

Elected full member of the National Academy of Fine Arts, in Lisbon.

Published “Panneaux de majolique au Portugal” in Faenza Bolletino del Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche.

Delivered a lecture, on 21 September, on The Azulejos of the ‘Casa do Paço’, in Figueira da Foz.

Enrolled in the degree in Historical-Philosophical Sciences of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra.


I have a close relationship with Gaetano Ballardini – the grand master of Italian ceramics – who has been sending me a lot of information on decorative ceramics currently found in Italy. Over there, however, there are no detailed or specialized studies, and tile coverings are classed under general ceramics, as in Portugal. When I was Italy in 1930, and later in 1936, I had not yet taken an interest in this subject, and hence did not look for the available sources.

Travelled to Spain to study tile coverings.

Organized, from 1 March to 1 July, at the National Museum of Ancient Art, the 6th Temporary Exhibition – Azulejos [VI Exposição Temporária - Azulejos], and was responsible for the exhibition’s catalogue. On 3 March he delivered a lecture entitled Panorama do Azulejo em Portugal [Overview of Portugal’s Azulejos].

Published the study A Casa do Paço da Figueira da Foz [The ‘Casa do Paço’ in Figueira da Foz], with the Dr. Santos Rocha Municipal Museum, in Figueira da Foz.


Organized an Art History course for foreign students at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra.

Published “Azulejos Holandeses do Palácio Saldanha” [Dutch Tiles in the Saldanha Palace] na revista Belas Artes – Boletim da Academia Nacional de Belas Artes.

Appointed Secretary General of the 16th International Congress of Art History, held in Portugal in 1949, and travelled to the Netherlands, Belgium and France to prepare the event.


Participated in the 16th International Art History Congress, in Lisbon, where he proposed for the first time that azulejo studies become an autonomous research field, independent of general ceramics.

Began a trip across Europe (England, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and France) on 21 October. During his stay in London, he delivered the lecture Portuguese Painted Tiles at the Lecture Theatre of the Victoria & Albert Museum. He was also in Paris, where he was in contact with Louis Réau, who offered him a book.


Travelled to Spain, in March, to study tile decorations.

Published “Portuguese Painted Tiles” in The Anglo-Portuguese Society.

Reintroduced the traditional Tray Festival, in Tomar, while studying its ethnographic aspects.


Presented a paper on The Tiled Altar Frontals of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba [Frontais de Altar de Azulejo da Mesquita Catedral de Córdova] at the Academy of Fine of Arts of Saint Isabel of Hungary, in Seville, of which he became a corresponding member. 

Travelled to the Netherlands, from 22 July to 1 August, where he visited several cities and museums, and participated in an Art History congress in Amsterdam. On 24 July he attended talks by René Huyghe, on Leonardo da Vinci, and by Gomez Moreno. On 30 July he delivered a lecture at the Municipal Museum entitled Dutch Painted Tiles in Portugal and Spain, and went on to visit museums in the Hague, Haarlem, Gouda, Oudewater, Rotterdam and Delft. During these visits, he took notes and made drawings.

1952 - 1953

Organized the 1st Course on Tomar-Related Studies.


Appointed honorary citizen of Tomar.


Published “Les carreaux céramiques hollandais au Portugal et en Espagne” in the proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Art History, held in Amsterdam in 1952.


Left Tomar’s spinning mill, following the death of his father, and took up residence in Lisbon.

Delivered, in January, a lecture in Badajoz on Azulejaria Flamenga y Holandesa en España y en Portugal.

I had the honour of asking the opinion of Mr. Calouste Gulbenkian and his advice on the person who might further enlighten me. That is how I began my correspondence with H.R. the Armenian Archbishop of Paris, Mgr. Artavazd Surméyan, who did me the honour of receiving me in Paris’ Armenian Church. There, during a series of unforgettable conversations, I obtained precious information which greatly enriched my research. (…) I judged this small detail to be of real interest to justify the financial support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to the work [Dutch Painted Tiles in Portugal and Spain], which would thus include extensive references to the activity of notable Armenian figures, through the publication of the unusual and rare tiles with epigraphs in Armenian script that naturally interested the late Mr. Gulbenkian and the Armenian community (…) (May).  


Stayed in the Netherlands from 24 June to 7 July to prepare the publication of the work Dutch Painted Tiles in Portugal and Spain, and visited museums and palaces in several cities, such as Rotterdam, Wormer, Leiden, the Hague, Amsterdam, Delft, Leeuwarden, Edam and Hoorn.

Began a collaboration with the National Museum of Ancient Art as an assistant curator, tasked with providing support to the ceramics collection, and was a scholarship holder of the Institute for High Culture.

Travelled, on 13 November, to the South of Spain (Medina-Sidonia, Cadiz, Huelva).


Creation of the Azulejo Study Brigade by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with the aim of putting together a Corpus of Portuguese Tiles. Santos Simões is appointed the group’s director. 

Taught a course on the history and aesthetics of ceramics, in February, targeted at intern curators.

Stayed in the Netherlands from April to June to prepare the publication of the work Azulejos Holandeses [Dutch Painted Tiles], visited the Hague, Oudewater, Haasdrecht, Gouda and Haarlem, delivered lectures in the Hague, at the Boijmans Museums, at Amsterdam’s Municipal Museum and at the Leeuwarden’s Princessehof Museum and visited the Hannemanuis Museum, in Harlingen, on 30 May.

Delivered a lecture in Paris, at the Museum of Decorative Arts, entitled La Céramique Décorative au Portugal I – Azulejos et Carreaux Céramiques Hollandais au Portugal et en Espagne. This lecture was also presented at the Société des Amis de Sèvres and at the Maison du Portugal.


Published Les carreaux céramiques hollandais au Portugal et en Espagne, with Martinus Nijhoff.

Received the José de Figueiredo Prize for the second time, for the work Dutch Painted Tiles in Portugal and Spain, sponsored by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Invited to visit Brazil between May and September by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the University of Recife, and delivered lectures at the Universities of Pernambuco, Baía, Olinda and Rio de Janeiro.

Published the book Azulejos Holandeses no Convento de Santo António do Recife [Dutch Painted Tiles in the Convent of Saint Anthony of Recife], which was selected as the contribution on Brazil’s historical and artistic heritage at the 4th Colloquium of Portuguese-Brazilian Studies, held in the city of Salvador. This work ranked first among the ten best books on art published in Brazil in 1959.

On 31 December Dr. João Couto wrote an official letter to the General Director for Higher Education and the Fine Arts supporting the project of housing the Azulejo Museum in the Monastery of the Madre de Deus, and mentioning Santos Simões as a suitable aid.


Wrote various documents in connection with the creation of the Azulejo Museum, namely: Museu do Azulejo: Proposta para a sua creação e Adaptação dos Edifícios do antigo convento da Madre de Deus a Museu de Azulejaria [Azulejo Museum: Proposal for its creation and Adaptation of the buildings of the ancient convent of the Mother of God to a museum for azulejos]

Published Majólica Italiana do Paço de Vila Viçosa [Italian Majolica in the Palace of Vila Viçosa].

Travelled in September to Spain, where he visited the Maritime Museum and the Historical Museum of Barcelona.


Travelled in May to Azores, where he surveyed the tile coverings of different churches and delivered a lecture in Angra do Heroísmo. He was also in Madeira and Ponta Delgada, where he delivered another lecture.

Travelled to Paris, where he visited an exhibition on Iranian art, on 28 December.


Presented a paper on 26 January at the National Academy of Fine Arts, entitled Francisco de Matos e os Ceramistas Flamengos de Lisboa [Francisco de Matos and Lisbon’s Flemish Potters].

Travelled to Brazil, where he delivered a lecture in Rio de Janeiro.

Published "Da exposição temporária de azulejaria ao Museu do Azulejo” [From the temporary exhibition of azulejos to the Azulejo Museum] no Boletim do Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.


Publication of Azulejaria Portuguesa nos Açores e na Madeira [Portuguese Tiles in Azores and Madeira], the first volume of the Corpus of Portuguese Tiles, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Travelled on 16 January to Madeira, where he studied the Frederico de Freitas Collection and the Angústias Estate.

Presented a paper at the National Academy of Fine Arts on 13 March, entitled Um retábulo datado e não conhecido na Madeira [An unknown dated retable in Madeira].

Stayed in Madeira and Azores, where he took notes on the existing windmills, and bought one himself on 6 June.

In this same year, the Lisbon Patriarchate created a Commission for Sacred Art. Santos Simões was invited to be part of its 5th subcommission, as a consultant for training activities.

Stayed in the island of S. Miguel, on 30 March and from 3 to 10 April, where he delivered a lecture on azulejos in Azores and surveyed local tile decorations. On 3 April he travelled to another island, Terceira, where he took part in the 2nd Study Week promoted by the Azorean Cultural Institute, with a talk entitled O problema manuelino e a introdução do Renascimento em Portugal [The Manueline issue and the introduction of the Renaissance in Portugal].

Travelled to Madeira, in August, where he taught a lecture course as part of the XXV Missão Estética de Férias [25th Aesthetic Holiday Mission].

Participated in the 4th Meeting of Curators of Museums, Palaces and National Monuments, in Coimbra, from 16 to 19 October.

Appointed assistant curator of the National Museum of Ancient Art, on 18 November.


Founded the Portuguese Association of the Friends of Windmills.

Visited Brazil, between October and November, where he surveyed tile decorations, put together a team to work on the Corpus of Portuguese Tiles and delivered lectures on Molinology. 

Travelled in May to London, where he delivered a lecture entitled Portuguese Windmills at the Lecture Theatre of the Science Museum, at the invitation of the Wind and Watermill Section of London’s Society for the Prevention of Ancient Buildings.

Travelled to the Netherlands on 13 May to present a paper at the Rotterdamsche Kunstring on Dutch Painted Tiles in Azores and Brazil [Azulejos Holandeses nos Açores e no Brasil]. On 19 May he gave another talk on painted tiles, in Leeuwarden.

Published "The tiles of Spain and Portugal" and "The influence of Dutch tiles in Portugal and Brazil”, in Fliesen.


Publication of Azulejaria Portuguesa nos Açores e na Madeira [Portuguese Tiles in Azores and Madeira], the second volume of the Corpus of Portuguese Tiles, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Promoted the 1st International Windmill Symposium, where he introduced the concept “molinology” to designate the study of windmills.


Organized several lectures on the History of Taste as part of the Artistic Training module taught at the National Society of Fine Arts.

Published “O Museu do Azulejo no Convento da Madre de Deus (1964-1965)" [The Azulejo Museum in the Convent of the Mother of God (1964-1965)] in the Boletim do Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.

Travelled to the United States from 6 to 18 September to participate in the 6th International Colloquium of Portuguese-Brazilian Studies (Cambridge and New York), where he commented on a paper by Flávio Gonçalves. He also presented a paper entitled Presenças Orientais na Arte Luso-Brasileira [Oriental Presences in Portuguese-Brazilian Art].


Travelled to Turkey between September and October to take part in the General Assembly and the Congress of the Académie Internationale de la Céramique, as Portugal’s representative within the institution. He was also the President of the International Jury in charge of awarding the Academy’s Grand Prix. Moreover, he visited Bursa, in Turkey (5 and 6 September), and Rome, on his return to Portugal.

Visited Morocco.

He delivered a lecture on 24 May at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation on Decorative Ceramics in Morocco.

Between 5 December and February of the following year, he organized a lecture cycle at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, aimed at presenting the first results of the work developed by the Azulejo Study Brigade.


Visited the U.S. between May and June.

Stayed in Brazil from 12 September to 9 October to take part in the Portuguese-Brazilian Baroque Festival (São Salvador da Bahia). On 28 February he travelled to Rio de Janeiro and delivered a lecture on 1 October at the conference hall of the Instituto do Livro on Baroque Invariants in Portuguese-Brazilian Art: Woodwork and Azulejo. He returned on 3 October to São Salvador and travelled three days later to Recife. On 8 October, at 18h, he delivered a lecture at the School of Architecture, and at 21h50 gave a televised interview. He returned to Portugal on the following day. 


Presented a paper on 31 January at the National Academy of Fine Arts on The View of Jerusalem in the Convent of the Mother of God [O Panorama de Jerusalém da Madre de Deus].

Publication of Azulejaria em Portugal nos séculos XV e XVI [Portuguese Tiles in the 15th and 16th centuries], the third volume of the Corpus of Portuguese Tiles, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Participated, between 9 and 13 April, in the international colloquium on painted tiles held in the island of Hooge, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, with the talk New findings of Dutch Tiles in Portugal and Brazil.

Participated, on 16 May, in the 2nd Molinology Symposium, in Copenhagen, and decided to create, with A. Jespersen and Rex Wails, The International Molinological Society (TIMS), which would only become official in 1973. TIMS allowed for the rehabilitation of two 18th-century windmills located in Ajuda.


Travelled to London on 16 June to conduct research at the library of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Travelled on 22 June to Amsterdam, where he visited the Maritime Museum (Nederlandish Historisch Scheepvaartmuseum).

Travelled on 24 June to Brussels, where he attended a series of conferences organized by Europa Nostra, with the presence of Prince Albert of Liège.

Participated in the TV broadcast Frente a Frente, on RTP1, on 29 September.

1st International Symposium on Azulejos, where Santos Simões delivered the lecture Azulejos as Aesthetimetric Indexes, on 15 October.

Publication of Azulejaria em Portugal no século XVII [Portuguese Tiles in the 17th century], the fourth volume of the Corpus of Portuguese Azulejos, by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


Passed away in Lisbon on 15 February.

[information compiled by Susana Varela Flor and available in Paulo Henriques (coord.), João Miguel dos Santos Simões 1907–1972, Lisboa, Ministério da Cultura, Instituto Português de Museus, Museu Nacional do Azulejo, 2007.]

Santos Simões at the offices of the Spinning Factory, Tomar, 1946

Santos Simões in St. Gotthard, Switzerland, 1929

Santos Simões in the Fronteira Palace, Lisbon, 1971